I head to the bathroom only for a few minutes and our entrance is already packed to the brink!
It’s always like this when my dads arrange a get together. It goes from just us four, thinking we might actually have more space than we need, to us twenty thinking we barely have enough elbow room.
I leaned over the railing, checking out everyone who had arrived – and searching for someone I hoped wasn’t there.
Alistair and Emily are here….(why Emily? It’s not like she’s part of the family. She’s just Max and Alistair’s friend. Nobody says anything, but it’s not like I’m bringing Elvis or Sal to this gatherings.) which probably means Max isn’t too far off.
There’s Aunt Xenia and Teo too. Didn’t Lucas say they had this big secret to share? That’ll be interesting.
There’s Aunt E too, which of course means the twins aren’t too far off.
Ah damn it Jesse is here. Haven’t seen that brat since that really weird incident before summer camp. He brought his parents along too. Traz and Annaliese. I don’t really like that family…Annaliese is like my dad all “practicing magic is important” and Traz… well Traz just takes me off guard each time I meet him. And he clearly prefers my sister over me. (Then again doesn’t everyone?)
And lastly, one of the stars of today’s show, Aunt Rayray and her newborn! And it seems Uncle Jayjay tagged along.
I’ve no doubt she brought her hubbie along too (never goes anywhere without him), but I don’t think uncle brought his girlfriend.
“Hey Niko!” Lucas waved up at me. I waved back. “You coming?”
“Yeah two seconds.” I replied.
Yup, I’m satisfied. He isn’t here.
Hey! There’s nothing wrong with being afraid of my grandpa okay? And anyone who knows him would agree with me. He’s never done anything bad that I know of, he’s just really scary and intimidating. Always makes me uncomfortable. (plus he doesn’t talk, and I don’t know sign language well, so conversations are mostly non-existent or require a translator.)
I made my way down the stairs and followed Lucas to the living room where my sister and the other teens were.
I crossed Maxwell, lurking in the doorway looking mighty unhappy. I glanced at where he was looking – which just happened to be at Alistair and Emily giggling at each other like fools. Maybe there was more to it than friendship…
“Is mister mature adult jealous?” I sneered, and Max’s eyes snapped to me. He rolled his eyes.
“Why if it isn’t the immature kid. Heard you stupidly fell off a rooftop.”
“But I didn’t die and I got a treasure to boot!” I smirked, walking backwards into the living room. “Sometimes the risk is worth it eh Max?” I added with a quick poke to the arm.
A quick shake of his shoulder, and he walked away, ignoring me.
“Ha, where are you going Joel, hiding like the coward you are?” Veronica teased.
“I’d watch my back if I were you, I’m the one who inherited all of dad’s ninja skills.” Joel shot back.
Nikita shook her head. “It’s just a video game.”
“You wouldn’t understand the intricacies of a video game.” I butted in. “It requires skill and vision and agility. Most importantly logic and intelligence! Of course if you lack all of these…” I trailed off.
“Ooooh” Lucas grinned.
“I’d watch it if I were you. I may be slightly handicapped right now but I’m still older. Actually I’m older than all of you. I am going to turn 18 soon. I won’t even be part of your kiddie group anymore.”
“Yeah, but still you’re stuck with us, and you’re outnumbered. So I’d be careful of how much you brag about your age status.” Veronica said with a hidden sadistic smirk. “Aha! You’ve been beaten!”
Joel threw his remote down. “Okay I’m bored. Is there anything else we can do while we wait for cake? Don’t you two have anything cool in this house?”
Anything cool? I have a basement, but uh…..yeah
“We could string Jesse up by his toes.” I said, hearing his annoying voice from across the room.
“I don’t think we’d manage to get out scott-free. He’s got a big mouth.” Lucas said.
Yeah I know, but I really wanna teach that kid a lesson short of punching. I’m not lame to the point of punching kids!
“Hey guys, haven any of you heard from Elvis recently?” I asked.
“Who?” The twins simultaneously said.
“Vero, you know, the guy always on his cell phone who keeps making lame dares that really only Niko does?”
“Oh yeah that guy.”
“Ahem so have you?” I asked again.
“I definitely haven’t.” Niki said. “Not like I see him when you aren’t around.”
“Yeah well I didn’t ask you.”
“Haven’t seen him around at all. Dang it.” Veronica exclaimed, hitting the remote.
Joel shrugged. “Talked to him a week or so ago. But haven’t heard from him since, even when I called like two or three days ago.”
I frowned. “Doesn’t anyone find this weird? I mean this is Elvis after all. It’s not like him to AWOL.”
All I got were a few unconcerned shrugs.
“Seriously I go away for a few weeks and you guys are reduced to this? Come on, Elvis might be annoying from time to time, but he’s still part of our group. And this really isn’t normal behavior. What if something happened to him? Do you guys not care?” I asked, getting a little angrier than I’d expected.
Sure I’ve known Elvis longer than they have, but they should still know him well enough to figure out this isn’t normal.
The crew looked at me a little guiltily like a pack of punished puppies.
“Well what do you want your team to do about it mister bossy pants?” Nikita said with a playful smirk. My friends awaited my answer.
I dug my hands in my pockets. “I’m just looking for more concern here guys. And cooperation when I hatch a plan to go figure out what’s going on with Elvis.” I said. They shrugged.
“We always back up your weird plans.” Lucas said. “This is no exception.” The twins nodded.
I smiled, now that’s better.
“Speaking of weird…” Lucas muttered as a commotion started in the ‘adult area’. Xenia and Teo were about to announce their big secret.
The word pregnant fell out of their wrinkled mouths and everyone immediately started congratulating them. Lucas seemed to droop from unhappiness.
I bumped him. “Aren’t your parents too old to have another baby?”
“You’d think.” Lucas grumbled.
“Man you’re really not happy about this.” I said.
“It’s horrible news.”
“Having a new sibling ain’t that bad.”
Lucas let out a heavy sigh. “You don’t understand how good it is to be a single child.” He said with a forlorn pat on my shoulder. “None of you do, you’ve always had siblings.”
“Oh the poor Luke is gonna have to share.” I mocked and Lucas cast me a glare.
“You’re lucky we’re at a family gathering.” Lucas threatened.
“Yeah like you’ve ever punched someone.” I said.
“Is punching the only solution for you?”
“You can’t deny its effective.” I replied and Lucas shook his head.
More commotion from the adults, this time Erin and Evan had taken the spotlight.
With some jokes about how everyone was taking advantage of Edmund’s birthday party (and of papa waving it off saying at his age it didn’t really matter), they announced they were getting married.
There were a bunch of finallys, but I was more surprised than anything else! Weren’t they already married? Adding a ring isn’t going to make much difference at this point, but okay. Luke and I glanced back at the twins.
“Yeah we knew all along.” They admitted.
“Well I sure hope you did.” I said.
“Niko! Come!” I heard my name beckoned like I was some sort of pet dog over the noise of the adults restarting their conversations.
Jesse motioned for me to come with his finger.
If his parents weren’t right there looking at me, I’d shove his head in the toilet for that. Speaking of his parents, they looked like they expected me to go say hi.
Feet dragging on the floor, I did as Jesse had just ordered me to do.
“Ah Nikolas!” Traz welcomed me. “It’s good to see you. You just zipped right past us.”
I suppressed a shiver. I swear there’s just something really disconcerting about those mismatched eyes. The black of his eye is so utterly complete – it’s like staring into some sort of black hole. Hard not to get distracted. I heard he used to wear an eye patch. What could have ever convinced him to take it off??
He’s a lie detector too – it’s where Jesse gets that annoying talent from after all – though his version is a lot more detailed. Dad and pa’ told me with one look he knew your name, your level of supernatural power, your family and all your physical stats. If you’ve got a disease he can catch it. Pretty sweet really.
Jesse jabbed me in the side painfully with his sharp little nails. It took all I had not to spin around and show him a real jab.
“Niko Niko tell them what happened.” Jesse urged. “You know when you acted really weird.” He insisted, his eyes wide with the clear menacing message ‘Tell them what you did to me’. To this day, I still don’t know what tragic event he’s referring to.
Jesse received a pat on the head from his mom for his effort.
“How are you Nikolas?” Annaliese asked, her kind eyes smiling.
“I’m good. Not happy about school starting again soon though.”
“How’s Nikita faring? Her injury must have been a hell of a stop on her dancing career.” Traz asked, shaking his head sadly.
“Yeah, you know. She’s dealing with it.” I replied with a shrug.
“How’s your magic going?” Annaliese immediately shoved her question in, like the couple was trying to see who could get me to answer the most questions. “I can sense your magic a little bit better, your training must be wielding something!”
And I’ve reached my limit. Downside of family gatherings – always too many questions I don’t want to answer or don’t see the value in answering.
“Nikolas where’s my hello?” Aunt Rayray’s voice called out just as I was opening my mouth to probably say something rude that I shouldn’t have.
I smiled and gave a slight shrug, before hurrying to escape and go see my aunt and her baby. My cousin. My actual first real cousin. I mean sure I call Veronica, Joel and Lucas my cousins, but it’s not blood based.
“Look who’s here! It’s Kristina!” I said, immediately tickling the little baby. She gurgled happily. “You did call her Kristina in the end right?”
Catarina laughed. “Yes we did. And as predicted she’s as much a natural as her daddy.”
“Hope it all went well. You’ll have to bring her often she’s adorable.” I said, making faces at Kristy. “Is that a tuft of red hair? The ginger lives on.”
My aunt and I talked a bit, me mostly bragging about what I did at summer camp.
“You like mysteries right Niko?” Catarina asked.
“You bet I do! Got one for me?”
“My dragon-dreaming ability-”
“Nevermind.” I immediately cut her off. One of my least favorite subjects – easily.
“Hey now! You’ll find this interesting I swear.”
“My mother used to have a fancy dragon tattoo on her stomach before I was born. When she gave birth to me, she lost it, and I was born with a special tattoo like birthmark. Some design of circles and lines. I’ve had it all my life, but after I gave birth to Kristy…well it’s faded away. And look here,” She said, pointing to a spot under Kristy’s neck. “Can you see it?”
All I could see were some darker lines of skin. “It’s so faded though…are you sure it’s that?”
“Where else could my tattoo be now?”
“So she has a dragon-dreaming ability?” I concluded. I mean, I guess that’s plausible.
“My mom didn’t have one, so I don’t know. Maybe my mother was just the carrier? Do you remember last time I saw you? You thought I sent you dragon-dreaming and for a second we thought it was Kristy’s doing.”
“Yeah, but I wasn’t really dragon-dreaming…”
“Well whatever it is, I’m sure Kristy has a little power of her own.” Catarina said, kissing her daughter’s forehead. “Even if it’s only manifested itself with you.”
Only with me? “Maybe I have a little power of my own.” And maybe Kristy doesn’t have a power in the end. Maybe it was all my doing, because I don’t know what this is.
“Hoo maybe you do. Want to see if you can try it again?” Catarina said with a sly smile.
Hard to say no to that. “Yeah sure!”
I leaned over, picking at the little baby bundle’s toes through her blanket. “Hey Kristy, remember that magic trick we did? …probably not.”
Well, communicating with a baby isn’t the easiest. I cooed and played with her hands and tried to get her to do whatever had happened that day, but nothing happened. Just went to prove how it was probably my doing.
It happened out of the blue at that bank, so why wouldn’t it have when the baby kicked in my aunt’s belly? Just seems like a shame…Catarina actually looked excited at the idea that her daughter had some sort of power.
“Maybe you just don’t feel like it huh?” I said, wiggling her toes again. She kicked her feet and reached out to grab my hands. Now time to see if I’m right. I tried remembering how I’d managed to do it voluntarily at summer camp, as I grasped her tiny teeny little hands.
The words I’d recited to myself at summer camp came back in my mind: Think about a place; Want it just as bad.
Well apart from where I am right now, I can’t really think of anywhere else.
A tingle in my fingers.
I open my eyes (closed?) and I’m filled with this nauseating feeling as the room twists and turns around me. The place is colorless once again and it feels surreal. As the room moves as if we’re in a plate of jell-o, lines keep streaming past around me – the only thing with color around here. Blue lines, pink lines, fluffy lines, thin lines, all sorts of light rays just flowing by. As I stare intently at them (because looking anywhere else is going to make me sick), it almost feels like I can recognize some of them. Like that one could be Niki, and that skippy one could be pa, and that really faded one could be Sal’s, and – the room lurches again.
Something is wrong here. The air feels so thick and unstable, and the tingling in my hands, the ones still holding onto Kristy’s baby hands, is intensifying by the second.
“Jesus Christ stop it!” I find myself shouting as the movement of it all makes it impossible for me to think straight. I yank my hands away to cover my mouth as my stomach jumps – and everything settles down.
I can’t believe I’m distinguishing it now, but this feels a lot more like what happened at summer camp. It’s calm and serene, with everything being a soft black and white. But this time, everyone is immobile. It’s like time’s stopped, for everyone but me.
Everyone but –
Dark grey eyes are staring at me intently, watching every move I make. I’ve never seen this kind of creature – I mean supernatural. Is that even a supernatural? The horns look scary real and it looks like its floating. I’ve never seen skin that color before.
What is this? A ghost?
“Hello.” I say. It doesn’t reply. It stays where it is – right next to my uncle Benjamin. I start to walk towards it. “Who are-”
It suddenly snaps its fingers. “Eh! Stop!”
Surprised, I do as it commands. Silence.
“Okay what now?” I ask a little impatiently.
It blinks once then shakes its head.
“I don’t like you.” It replies with a nonchalant wave of its hand. Then it turns its back to me.
“Most people don’t first time.” I say with a short chuckle. “No, but seriously what are you? Whether you like me or not doesn’t really matter here.”
It turns back towards me, looking severely pissed off. Oops.
“This is why I don’t like interactions. You’re more annoying than she was.” It said, flicking its chin to my left – to Catarina.
“My aunt spoke to you? She knows who you are? So you won’t mind telling me?” I pushed.
“Go back to your world witch.” It hissed. As its dark grey eyes seemed to grow intensity, I felt something tug at me. And just like that, color filled my view again, along with all the noisy chatter.
I was back in front of my aunt, my hands still holding on to baby Kristy’s.
Catarina sighed. “Yeah, maybe she doesn’t feel like it. She’s still a little baby.”
“Actually,” I said, blinking a little as I got over the shock of suddenly coming back. “I- it – something…I have a question for you.”
This chapter got split in two (yeah Niko was supposed to ask his question and get an answer this chapter, but y’all gonna have to wait till the next one :P). There’s still a lot more stuff I wanted to add in, but I realized it had already reached my usual chapter length. So we get a Part 1, Part 2!
I’ve never had this many edited screenshots in a chapter -_-‘