2016 has begun!
Warning: PG-13 implied sensitive and possibly triggering material, and drugs
Okay, I was a little too excited when I started writing from Xav’s POV. Guess I missed him. It’s only been what two chapters? Switching generations is going to be hard :O
Also, unexpectedly longer chapter than usual.
I retreated inside my house, welcoming the nice warmth, and I shrugged off my coat. I rolled my shoulders a bit, feeling my sore muscles from being hunched over a desk all day. Work had been a little too slow today.
I headed for the kitchen where I could hear Edmund playing with Nikolaas, and I did my best to concentrate on the bad feeling that was tugging at my gut. It was faint, but it was there, and at this point I knew better than to ignore an impression.
But this one was so faint, I couldn’t determine what was causing it, and that was stressing me out. Last time an impression was this faint, I ignored it for too long and ended up getting controlled by Kord…and that just led to a whole lot of unnecessary injuries and deaths.
I walked into the kitchen as Edmund swung our little boy Niko up into the air.
It was just us three in the house for now. It was Tuesday so Nikita was at school practicing for the dance show. She’s really passionate about dancing, to the point where it still continues to surprise Ed and I.
Maybe because we’ve never been that passionate about something?
I frowned a little as the impression intensified a bit, but my frown made way for a smile as Niko squirmed in Edmund’s arms and saw me. “Daddy!”
I walked over and Edmund handed Niko over to my outstretched arms. He kissed my cheek as I ruffled my little boy’s hair.
“Had a nice day at work?” Edmund asked.
I shrugged. “It was okay. A little slow, and I lost the digital work I was doing at some point, but I hadn’t gotten that far ahead so it wasn’t that bad.”
“Alec called again.” Edmund said, and I rolled my eyes.
“He really won’t stop will he?” I sighed.
“I still don’t get what’s so special about this apple.”
“It’s not entirely sure…I’ve read a few theories that it knocks people out, or that it blocks out your supernatural side, or that it kills you. Which can only mean that whatever Alec wants it for can’t be good. Aliska did mention she wanted to study it though. Probably because no one knows anything about it.”
“I’m curious to know what it does now…” Edmund admitted. “You mentioned there could only be one in the world at a time. That’s gotta mean something important. I’m surprised there isn’t any more elaborate information on it.”
“You actually want to do research on this?” I asked. Edmund shrugged.
“Call it a writer’s curiosity.”
“Even if I wanted to know more about it, I wouldn’t want to ask my dad for the apple.” I said.
“You’re not even the least bit curious?”
“Call it my sixth sense telling me I shouldn’t.” I replied with a smirk.
“Speaking of my dad, I’m a little worried.” I confessed. “I really think he’s getting obsessed with those beads of his.”
“Well Benjamin’s left the house. He’s all alone. I think it’s better he obsess over that than go around killing vampires again or who knows what else he does in his free time.”
“Yeah but…it doesn’t seem healthy. He’s been trying to destroy the three beads he has for years now. It’s just not possible, but he doesn’t seem to get that.” I said.
“If you think about it…it’s because those beads exist that a lot of horrible things happened. Like giving you up, almost losing his daughter and losing Kyxa.” Edmund said.
“He’s using them as scapegoats?”
“Better than actual living people.” Edmund smirked.
“Yeah okay.” I glanced outside at the snow piling up and started to worry for Niki who was going to have to walk home. On top of that it was getting really dark.
That bad feeling intensified again.
“Think we could go pick up Niki?” I asked. Edmund followed my gaze.
“Yeah, that’d be a good idea. And a nice surprise for her.”
I nodded silently. The fact that my bad feeling was stronger when I was thinking about Nikita was worrying me.
“What’s wrong?” Ed asked.
“I’ve got this bad feeling I can’t identify. But I think it’s related to Nikita.” I replied.
Edmund grew concerned. “A bad bad feeling?”
“I don’t know yet.” I said.
I really hope it’s nothing bad.
And to think Maxwell teased me by saying I wouldn’t be able to stick to the dance show because it wouldn’t be all about me…HA. Showed him! It’s been a few months now and I’m still having a lot of fun!
I’m not that self-centered, geez, and either way it really seems like Mr.Lysan decided to choose me as the star! He hasn’t said anything yet, but he keeps paying more attention to me and congratulating me more than the others.
This school year is easily proving to be the best.
Mostly because of all the friends I’m making. Carrie, Theodora and I started to hang out outside of dancing practice, and I ended up introducing them to my other friends.
Well…I consider myself friends with everyone. At some point I went and met everyone in my classes, so l’ll just call them my other good friends.
Which are basically Ingrid and the twins. Oh and Devon too.
The five got along really well. It helped that Carrie and Theodora found the three amusing. Ingrid absolutely adores the twins and she often treats them as her pets calling them adorable and things of the sort.
After a week our small group became a pretty medium-sized one! At first Devon was a little shy, but he eventually warmed up to the others. Guess it helped that he wasn’t the only guy in the group!
Devon’s been my boyfriend for a pretty long time now, enough that most everyone knows about us, and a lot of people consider us to be the most popular couple in our school.
Devon doesn’t have a lot of friends…actually all his friends are actually my friends, so I guess technically he has a lot of friends. Devon can be a little mean sometimes, but that’s only because he speaks his mind. I’ve never heard him tell a single lie, and not a lot of people like to hear the truth!
He loves music though, and he likes watching me dance. And sometimes when he likes the tune he’ll start singing and I love dancing to his voice! Carrie can sing too, but her voice sounds more like something you’d find in a country song. Devon could easily sing lullabies.
Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t notice myself releasing a little bit of magic. And I also missed Theodora gesturing at me to stop.
When I did it was too late.
“NIKITA WHITELIGHT!” Mrs.Bolain said, her voice rising high up.
I’d said I’d try my best to control my magic. Didn’t mean it worked all the time. The only thing I knew was that nothing happened unless I was dancing!
“We don’t want you scaring the audience with a magic show.” Mrs.Bolain sternly said with a fake smile. She was probably seething with anger on the inside. “So keep it in.”
“Yes Mrs.Bolain.” I said timidly.
A few weeks ago she’d told me she thought I was a nice girl so she didn’t want to kick me out of the group, but I needed to learn to control my magic. And she was willing to do what was needed to help me. Apparently that meant yelling at me every time some magic was set loose.
Negative reinforcement I guess?
It sure always makes me jump when she yells.
Once our practice was over, Mr.Lysan reached out and grabbed my hand to keep me back. As Carrie headed out she looked back over her shoulder at me and gave me a reluctant thumbs up.
“Yes Mr.Lysan?” I said as the door closed behind my friends and Mrs.Bolain. I couldn’t believe it…was this it? Would I become his protégée?
To my surprise, Mr.Lysan knelt down so he was at my height. He reached out and held my other hand in his.
I shifted a little uncomfortably.
“Are you okay Niki?” He asked in a soft voice.
“Are you sure?”
I was feeling a little weird, but I didn’t want to do anything that would endanger my chance of being his protégée. So I nodded.
“I’m really sorry Mrs.Bolain keeps yelling at you.” He said with a kind voice. He reached up to push a strand of hair behind my ear. “It makes me sad to see a beautiful and talented girl like you getting yelled at.”
His hand stalled to stroke my cheek.
This pretty much means I’m definitely the protégée right?
My heart’s beating fast.
He might’ve been about to say it. No I’m sure he was going to say it. “Niki, you’re now the protégée.”
But a sharp inhale and a squeaking of shoes made us both turn to look at the door, where papa and daddy were standing.
I didn’t know why they were here, but I sure was happy to see them! And seeing them brought about a sense of security, without realizing that meant I hadn’t felt safe a few moments earlier.
Mr.Lysan let go of my hand and stood to his feet under the appalled glare of my dad, who was gripping papa’s arm to the point where there probably wasn’t any blood reaching his fingers. Mr.Lysan opened his mouth to say something, but apparently my fathers weren’t in the mood to listen to him talk.
I squeaked in surprise as papa pushed past daddy and grabbed Mr.Lysan by the collar, swinging him towards the wall, his hold on him still tight as only Mr.Lysan’s toes touched the ground.
Daddy’s hands had curled into fists. I’d never seen him so angry in my entire life.
“It’s not-” Mr.Lysan attempted to say, but papa jerked his collar up, cutting off Mr.Lysan’s speech.
“Don’t you ever touch our daughter again.” Papa hissed sending a shiver of fear down my spine.
That wasn’t the only thing that had me deeply concerned. Daddy may have been silent, but the rest of his body wasn’t.
I could clearly see magic swirling around daddy’s fist.
It wasn’t anything like he showed me during practice. It wasn’t like the type of magic I sometimes accidently let loose.
This one seemed harsh and violent and controlled in a scary manner. And I started to wonder whether daddy would use it against Mr.Lysan. That possibility terrified me, and I found myself staring at the swirling pulsing magic and just willing it to go away. Willing it to leave.
I couldn’t take it anymore.
My shoulders shook and I hid my face in my hands as I started to sob.
“Stop! Please stop…please stop…”
I don’t know what happened, but soon after daddy was at my side hugging me and papa had let go of Mr.Lysan who looked terrified out of his mind.
We went home after that, but the event was far from over.
Papa and daddy told me what it was that Mr.Lysan had done wrong, and that I was lucky they’d caught him in time once they’d confirmed that what they’d seen was the worst of it. Then they told me how to recognize it in the future if it happens again, and to tell them the moment an adult does something that makes me feel weird or uncomfortable – no matter who it is.
And then daddy and papa did their best to get Mr.Lysan fired. It wasn’t an easy task, because he technically hadn’t done anything bad to me so they didn’t have any proof. But they persevered in their complaints and accusations, and refusals to have me attend his classes. Eventually they stirred up so much attention that a few people started to step forwards, inspired and motivated by my parents.
Previous protégées of Mr.Lysan. The accumulation of victims and accusations got him fired and sent to jail.
But Mr.Lysan had only ever been nice…I’d never thought he’d be a bad person, and when I asked daddy about it he told me the people with the worst intentions are often the hardest to spot. It was thanks to his special sixth sense that he’d had absolutely no doubt about Mr.Lysan’s intentions.
I think Mrs.Bolain took pity on me.
Because Mr.Lysan got fired and no one else wanted to do it, she was now the only one in charge of preparing us for the dancing show – something I obviously still wanted to do.
After Mr.Lysan left, Mrs.Bolain started being nicer to me. And she even stopped yelling at me every time I couldn’t control my magic.
For the months that followed a lot of odd rumors about what had happened circled about and I got some weird looks in the hallways. But under those weird questionings and a few judging stares, I kept up my cheery self – mostly thanks to all my friends not acting any different.
When the dance show came along, and me, Carrie and Theodora performed an epic show for the school, everything had calmed down. It had all gone back to normal – except Mr.Lysan wasn’t here anymore.
And nobody seemed to care.
No one’s POV
Nikita took in a deep breath, her shoulders lifting up and slowly drifting back down as she ended her routine.
Good thing too, she’d almost pulled a muscle trying out a break dance move Theodora had taught her.
She glanced at her brother who continued to ‘dance’ in his own way to the rapid tempo violin soundtrack.
She smirked as she watched him go, his eyes half-closed.
When he stopped hearing his sister’s feet hitting the floor, he opened his eyes to stare at her.
“Nothing.” Nikita quickly replied.
Nikolas narrowed his eyes.
“You said you didn’t mind!” He said, dropping his arms which had previously been holding his imaginary violin.
“I don’t! I don’t! I’m really happy for you Niko!” Nikita quickly said.
Nikolas’ suspicious glare almost instantly switched to an excited one.
“I still can’t believe papa and dad said they’d think about it!” Niko exclaimed. “Me? With my very own violin?”
Nikita nodded with a wide grin for her brother.
Well she hadn’t had any doubt in the matter. Niko had started showing a lot of interest in music – or more how it was made – recently. It started with him sneaking into the band room to test out the drum set because of a dare, to one of the seniors finding him adorable and letting him try out their violin. Apparently Niko fell in love with the sound and the feel of it and that’s when the harassing began.
Once Xavier and Edmund saw how really intent Niko was on this, they said they would think about it. It did help that Niko kept using Niki and her dancing as an argument.
Nikita looked out the window and spotted her parents and their friends around the campfire. Everyone had arrived.
“They’re already starting to take out the marshmallows. I’m going to get changed, you heading down now?” Niki asked.
Niko’s eyes widened. “Obviously! Or else Lucas is going to swoop in and take all the marshmallows again!” And with that he sped past his sister and jumped down the stairs.
Niko burst outside as the adults started to roast some marshmallows. It was a tradition with their family. Every year, on the same bright sunny day, Erin, Teo and Xenia came over to share a few happy hours together.
Niko didn’t know much about why…actually his knowledge about the event was pretty much limited to it being related to someone’s death. He didn’t pay that much attention to it the first time it was explained.
He gave a quick wave to his cousins Joel and Veronica as they tossed around a bright new flashy frisbee.
As Nikolas went down the stairs, he bumped a little into Lucas, who was stuffing his face with a bag of marshmallows.
“Hey Luke!” Niko exclaimed.
Lucas gave a small tired wave.
“You don’t look so good…” Niko said. Lucas patted his stomach with a content sigh.
“I might have exaggerated a little…” He admitted. “Want one?”
“If there’s any left!” Niko said. Lucas sarcastically chuckled and threw one at him.
Niko quickly chewed on it and jogged over to where the adults are.
Xenia laughed as Teo hastily put out his burnt to a crisp marshmallows. “Darn it….”
“Hi!” Niko said with a wave. Erin welcomed him with a ruffle of his hair and Xenia did so by poking at his side when he went to sit down between the two.
Niko plopped himself on the empty chair – on the always empty chair – and stared at the flickering flames as the adults kept talking. His eyes drifted around to see if they could find a random bag of marshmallows…
“Did we ever tell you guys about this one time?” Edmund asked, glancing at Teo. Teo dropped his new marshmallows in the fire.
Teo frowned at Edmund. “You don’t mean…”
Edmund nodded. “Yes! How we basically met Oliver.”
Xenia rolled her eyes. “With the dumpster and the horse and all that other stuff that’s probably a load of bullsh*t? Yes, yes you have.”
“Are you sure?” Teo asked with a smirk.
Erin nodded enthusiastically. “Yes! Yes we are. They’ve told us what, four times now?”
“I could recite it by heart now.” Xavier said, and all five adults started to laugh.
Nikolas swung his legs as he started to get just a little bit bored. He still listened to the conversation and there was something that was bothering him. Or well something that he’d never quite understood.
“Do you always have a barbecue for Oliver because he died?” He asked. Erin smiled at him and nodded. “But…normally people are dressed in black and sad and stuff right? Like on tv? Isn’t it mean to be playing around and having fun when someone died?”
“Not at all.” Xavier replied. “We’re actually honoring the dead by having fun.”
Even though the other adults nodded along, Nikolas didn’t quite understand the concept. But he’d never actually met this Oliver so he just shrugged it off.
And on top of that he’d just spotted the best of his cousins, Maxwell, waving at him.
Niko jumped out of his chair.
He ran over to Max and tackled him with a hug.
He very rarely saw his cousin. There was a time where he came over more often, but now he only came when Erin forced him to or if there were family reunions.
“Hey Niko, how’s it going?”
“Great! Papa and daddy said they’d give me a violin!” Nikolas exclaimed.
“We said we’d think about it!” Edmund rectified and Niko chose to ignore it.
Maxwell took a quick look around, at Lucas dying from marshmallow overdose on the porch, at Joel tackling Veronica because she threw the Frisbee in a tree again, and then at the adults enjoying themselves around the fire, recounting old tales.
He turned back to Niko. “Wanna come see something cool? It’s near here.”
Niko nodded enthusiastically.
“Daddy! I’m going to go take a walk with Maxwell okay? Please?” Niko said.
Xavier exchanged a glance with Edmund before nodding. He looked pointedly at Maxwell. “Back here in two hours.”
Maxwell nodded, with a quick salute.
The two boys set off for a quick walk and once they were out of earshot Niko asked the question he was dying to ask every time he saw Maxwell.
“Is the ghost around here?”
While Nikita had long since forgotten about the ghost, Nikolas was as obsessed as she had been when she was just a few years old. And he was also the only one who talked to Maxwell about it with genuine interest. Sometimes Xavier or Erin mentioned it, or showed an interest, but Maxwell never really brought the subject up. At this point, he’d come to terms with the fact that talking about seeing ghosts either got him called a liar or made people uncomfortable.
“Yeah he’s right behind me.”
“Is he going to follow us all the way to where we’re going?” Nikolas asked, checking behind him but seeing no ghost.
“Maybe. He’s done it once before, he might do it again.” Maxwell said.
As they walked, Max pulled out his phone and texted Emily and Alistair to come and meet them. He still didn’t like Alistair, but even he had to admit that Alistair brought a special kind of life to the party. Alistair would do anything to have an excuse to not be at home. Plus Emily always seemed to be incredibly bored when Alistair wasn’t around.
The four eventually reached their destination; the top of a cliff which gave way to a river down below.
“Oh wow this is so high!” Niko exclaimed, leaning over carefully to look at the bottom. The movement of water hypnotized him and Max put a hand on his shoulder – just in case Niko decided to lean in too far.
Then he led Niko’s gaze to somewhere a little more specific.
“See over there?” Maxwell asked, pointing to a spot on the other side of the river. “That’s where I ended up when I tried to run away.”
“Run away? From where?” Nikolas asked, looking up with renewed curiosity.
Maxwell was in a way an idol for Nikolas. Niko viewed him as a prime example of what he should be.
Max seemed like he didn’t belong in this reality. There was something about the way he acted or the way he looked that made Nikolas feel like everyone was ignorant and only Maxwell could see the truth. Max must’ve been the wise old monk people came to for guidance in a past life.
Maxwell carried himself like a young man who knew things people didn’t have a clue about, like a young man who kept these things to himself not out of greed, but because they weren’t ready to accept them.
Ah, Niko could only wish someone would see him the way he saw his cousin. There was a beauty in being different than others.
“Max was a bit of a lonely crybaby at your age.” Alistair commented.
“Oi Al that’s mean!” Emily said, elbowing Alistair, who merely faked having been hurt. He dramatically stumbled towards the edge, Niko’s frightened eyes watching as the teen stopped himself before he got any closer to it.
“It feels kind of dangerous here Max…” Nikolas confessed, but Maxwell reached down and tickled him.
“Ah, don’t worry! It’ll be fine, we’re right here to catch you if you fall! Come on.” Maxwell said as he let himself fall down on the grass.
“So did the ghost follow?” Niko tried to whisper, but the other two overheard.
“That ghost is still alive?” Alistair asked. And then he laughed as his apparent joke.
“Yeah…that was a sad pun.” Max smirked and Alistair rolled his eyes. “Not really Niko. He’s over there, where I pointed at earlier. Apparently he doesn’t want to cross the river.”
“Maybe he died by drowning.” Alistair smirked.
“Nope he didn’t.” Emily said. “Remember? We said it was that one dude that died in little Niko’s house…wasn’t that guy like cut into pieces and then burned and then tossed into the river?”
Niko ignored Emily’s words, uprooting grass instead.
“Ah, so that’s why he doesn’t want to cross it.” Alistair said.
“Are you guys done?” Max asked.
“Ohhhh Maxxie is getting pissed.” Alistair made a pouty face before digging something out of his pocket. “Here ya go, fresh from two days ago! Should appease your anger.”
“Oooh! Pass me one.” Emily said, practically reaching into Alistair’s pocket for her share.
Nikolas looked over as Maxwell grabbed a joint. When Niko hung out with Maxwell it often involved Emily and Alistair which in turn almost always involved pot. Nikolas was growing increasingly curious about it. The smoke was disgusting, but Max and his friends kept doing it, so there had to be something pretty darn cool about it.
“Eh don’t make those eyes buddy.” Alistair said. “I’m not going to give you one! If you want some you’re going to go have to get your own.”
Maxwell kicked Alistair. “Don’t listen to him. Instead just very simply never smoke okay?”
“Like that’s any better.” Emily scoffed. “Gotta wait till you’re older Niko. Then if you want to you can.”
Nikolas frowned at them. Grown-ups are just so weird sometimes…and the rest of the time they don’t make any sense whatsoever.
I thought he was a Xav clone at first because he’s got the same profile, but from the front he’s definitely got more of Ed’s face. This makes me very happy. Genetic diversity, woo!