Warning: PG-14 for a disturbing zombie-like theme, along with some visual at the end of the chapter
No one’s POV
Sleep didn’t visit James that night.
He’d stayed at the Dragons after his grandson had left, and he’d stayed till he saw them burn Assaria with his own eyes. He watched as they poured her ashes in a box and handed it to him. He could’ve thrown the ashes away, but that felt like a mistake.
He knew he had killed her then. She wasn’t the first he’d ended that way. She shouldn’t have been able to survive him destroying her mind. Assaria, though, was peculiar and she hadn’t been dubbed the Chosen Immortal by the Time Keepers for nothing. James was afraid the title implied more than just everlasting youth.
If she truly was unable to stay dead, James was going to be right here, beside this box of ashes, to give her a warm welcome.
The vampire wasn’t the only one having trouble sleeping that night. Nikolas’ mind was plagued with the recent events of the last three days: Salandra’s emotional state, Oscar’s restlessness, the fear of falling asleep and waking up trapped again, getting kidnapped by that psychopath, seeing her dead corpse. It hadn’t traumatized him. He’d seen worse he was sure of it.
But…he still kept seeing her at his grandfather’s feet.
When it became clear he wouldn’t fall asleep that night, around 2 am, he got up. For a moment, he considered heading off to go back to see the Dragons. They said he was welcome any time, and it could help calm his mind to get more answers. Buuuuut that meant asking his dads if he could go. Boy would he hear about it if he went without telling anyone.
He could also play his violin, which tended to be a sure fire way to help him sort his thoughts out, but he didn’t think the rest of the house would appreciate it at 2 in the morning.
So, to avoid unnecessary drama, he opted to sneak down for a snack. He hadn’t expected to spot his grandfather outside in the process however.
Nikolas stepped outside to an agreeable summer night breeze.
“Can’t sleep either?” He asked glancing around. There wasn’t a cloud in sight, leaving the sky open for a spectacular view of the stars. Well, the few you could see in Ridgevalley’s skies.
James shook his head.
A palpable silence settled down, but Nikolas didn’t mind it. It seemed appropriate in the current setting and he sat down to listen to the silence. For a few moments, it was all he heard and he finally felt himself start to calm down a bit.
But then he glanced at his grandpa and his mind filled up with questions again.
He semi-crawled towards the box at James’ feet to avoid blocking his grandpa’s view of the trees. Not that it changed much, as James watched his grandson open the box and peek inside.
“Are these her ashes?” Nikolas asked staring at the dark grey piles. He closed it.
A nod. Nikolas settled back down, a question lingering on his tongue. He didn’t know if it was appropriate to ask it…but he chose to anyway.
“Have you killed a lot of people?”
James inhaled deeply before slowly bringing his hands up to reply in the simplest way he could. Nikolas interrupted him almost instantly. “Wait, how do I ask that but in sign language?”
The vampire gave a small smile, bringing his hands up to show him.
The two spent the rest of the night ‘talking’ through sign language. Nikolas ended up learning sign language and more about his grandfather’s past in the short 4 hours it took for the sun to rise.
He would’ve liked for it to last longer. When he had to learn how to ask each question in sign language, and then have to decipher what his grandfather was telling him, it made four hours go by quickly.
“You two are up early.” Xavier had come downstairs around 6 am to make breakfast. He cast the box at James’ feet a cursory glance.
“Look dad! This…” Nikolas said, placing his hands. He flipped them. “Is sign for dead. OH and this…is witch, this is vampire, this-”
“That’s…great. How long have you been awake?”
“Oh right, you know sign language already dad. Can you teach me some?” Nikolas ignored his question.
Xavier glanced at his father who raised his eyebrows in response. “Sure, after your magic lessons I can teach you a few words.”
Xavier urged everyone to come inside for a family breakfast. James didn’t show any sign of getting up, content at staying outside on his chair. Xavier urged again. “It’d be really great if you joined us for breakfast dad.”
Nikolas couldn’t suppress a grin as his grandfather got up with a barely audible groan. Clearly, breakfasts weren’t his thing.
The two adults headed for the door, but the teen hesitated. He glanced at the box on the side, wondering for a brief moment if leaving it outside was a good idea. But ashes don’t come back to life right? And his grandfather was purposefully leaving it outside.
James turned back around, picking up on the stray thought and remembering the box. He smiled at Nikolas, signing the word ‘smart’.
The teen straightened a little confused, but when his grandfather gestured at the box, Nikolas became impressed. “You actually…” He gestured at his own head, attempting to represent thoughts in a physical way.
James signed something else at his grandson, who only recognized a few words. But they were enough for him to understand that James thought it was a good idea, and that he should bring the box inside. You couldn’t be too cautious with this particular creature.
Breakfast started off nicely, with Nikita monopolizing most of the conversation to recount the terror she’d felt the day before. Nikolas eventually got a word in to excitedly share his opinion on the dragons.
“I wanted to go back today! Start working on the robot for Oscar and all. The sooner the better.” Nikolas said.
Xavier grimaced. “I’m still not sold on this robot solution.”
“But it’s a great idea! We still do the spell, but instead of putting Oscar in the couch we put him in a robot! It’s a win-win situation.” Nikolas insisted.
“It implies that you have to trust these people. Why would they give you a robot spontaneously?” Xavier added.
Nikolas shrugged. “Because they’re nice and they felt bad for kidnapping us?”
James signed something and Xavier shook his head. “No it’s not my sixth sense, but I still think this takes a much more cautious approach. We should look for other solutions first.”
“Even though we’ve got this perfect one here already?” Nikolas asked incredulously.
“Either way you have school today. Your finals remember those?” Xavier said retorted.
Nikita gaped a bit. “Can’t he have at least a day off dad? You guys did get kidnapped yesterday.”
“Forget it Niki. Dad made his mind up ages ago. Logic can’t change anything.” Nikolas said, taking another bite of his bread and making sure to avoid his father’s gaze. There wasn’t a single shred of doubt in him that Xavier was giving him one of his unhappy looks. The table had fallen silent, and Xavier had placed his utensil down.
Nikolas didn’t regret anything yet.
“Logic isn’t the problem here.” Xavier said. “You are. I can’t trust you with anything. Every decision you make has dire consequences. So yes, you will go to school and do your finals. You’re going to stop trying to stick your nose where it doesn’t belong. I’ve had it with your attitude, and your disregard for my decisions. I don’t make them to make you suffer, I make them to keep you safe. Until you understand this, I’m putting you on a magic house arrest.” Xavier got up, his hands sparking with magic. “I gave you ample chances Nikolas, but I’ve reached my limit. I didn’t want to have to use magic on you, but you’ve forced my hand.”
“That’s a bit extreme!” Edmund got up on his feet, trying to calm the situation. He was quickly drowned out by Nikolas jumping to his feet.
“You’re serious!? Reducing me to some kind of puppet!?” Nikolas shouted.
James was next to stand up, the other two grew silent.
James had something to say, and Xavier knew it, but he refused to look at his father. Annoyed at being ignored, the vampire gripped his son’s shoulder.
‘There are other ways to deal with this kind of situation.’ James finally signed.
“Oh and you would know all about what it is to be a father.” Xavier snorted. “You weren’t really father of the year.”
‘You aren’t helping your son by putting a leash on him.’ James added, seemingly unfazed by the insult.
“Don’t try to do this.” Xavier gestured at his father. “Don’t try to give me fatherly advice. Truth is you didn’t know how to be a good father. I love you dad, you know that, but you don’t really have the expertise to be able to tell me how to raise my son.”
“Oh sorry, is that how I’m supposed to treat you dad?” Nikolas found himself cutting in. This all seemed….harsh and out of the blue. His dad had never referred to his grandpa this way before – thought it’s true he’d rarely ever heard anything positive. Probably trying to protect him from his grandpa’s big bad dark past.
Xavier slowly looked at his son, clearly displeased with his attitude again. Probably anxious to get that magic grounding spell up and running.
Had Nikolas really become this kind of problem? He’d worked so hard in the last few months since the police department incident to cause less trouble for his parents. Sure they’d been a few hiccups, mostly out of his control, but it seems his efforts had gone unnoticed. He doubted it was even about him anymore. His dad had gotten so wrapped around this ‘normal’ idea, that Nikolas had just become an obstacle in the way to keeping this family away from anything remotely out of it’s comfort zone.
Realizing this, Nikolas changed his approach. “Dad I just wanted to get this problem solved quickly. The Dragons have a good solution. And the sooner we get Oscar out, the quicker we go back to our normal lives. I’m sure I can retake the exams during the summer if we tell my teachers I was kind of inconvenienced.”
Nikolas’ steady reply had managed to calm the conversation down.
“I don’t like having to rely on them.” Xavier said, his position still clear on the subject. If anything he’d switched to a defensive mode, as everyone was clearly on Nikolas’ side.
James rolled his eyes and signed ‘Get dressed’ at his grandson. He’d take Nikolas there himself. There wouldn’t be anything to worry about under his protection – which had been the original plan anyhow.
Xavier, however, still wanted to argue. “Even with you there, I don’t think-”
James successfully cut him off with a glare. Xavier had never been on the receiving end before, and it shocked him silent. ‘You need to go rest and think about what happened here’
The conversation ended quite promptly.
Nikolas and James headed back to the Dragons right after. The place was a lot emptier in the morning and they were welcomed back with big smiles. When Nikolas mentioned the robot he’d been promised, Terrance immediately pulled the teen away to their working stations. He’d spent the night rummaging through their junk to find the robot and had already started working on it.
Nikolas was surprised, but Terrance assured him his motives were entirely selfish. The Dragons had concluded Nikolas would end up with the final decision to choose who he wanted to work with since they couldn’t agree between themselves. Terrance was just campaigning for his team.
Meanwhile, James and Kevil collaborated with the other two Dragons to find an effective method of finding the lizard-eyed girl. Scouts in Stonebridge had already confirmed the temporary presence of people from the Hans group when the girl was abducted.
Annie suggested they take a more peaceful approach, by sending them a message first. Letting them know how dangerous and unpredictable the thousand year old teen could be. If the Hans acted in greed they would then need to attempt an infiltration.
Even with James on their side, confronting the Hans head on was unwise. They were resourceful, smart and dangerous. They’d been prepared to abduct the girl from James’ own front yard. No doubt that they’d prepared counter measures against his power. Slipping in and out undetected was their safest bet.
All that was left to know was the hows and whens, if, of course, it came to that.
We spent the whole morning and afternoon at the Dragons, it was awesome! Terrance let me help out in repairing the bot, which took all day in the end, but I ended up wandering a lot. They let me snoop around, and I met a few of the other members. When the robot was done, they helped us put it in the car and they wished me luck.
I was totally braced for another of dad’s angry lectures, but when we got home he was more than ready to cast the spell and get this over with. I have my suspicions that pa spent the afternoon talking him down. Grounding me with magic hasn’t come up again anyhow.
Tyzel was there too when we got back, he’d come to see Niki, but when I gave him a crash course of what had happened in the last three days he wanted to be there to see the resolution of the Oscar situation.
We didn’t waste any time, we set up the robot, and then dad, Niki and I got ready to cast the spell.
It was supposed to be a simple spell, or so dad told us. He’d given us easy tasks that well, proved to not be that easy.
We must’ve spent at least three hours trying to coordinate our spells.
I don’t usually like casting spells that much – especially not around my dad – but this time I had a lot of fun. Even though we kept failing and we blew one of the lights out once, having us three work on a spell to get Oscar his own body was exciting.
The air rapidly got charged with magic with the amount we were using. Any supernatural neighbors were probably wondering what the hell we were doing.
“Don’t worry Oscar, we almost got it. I swear this time it’s going to work.” I smirked, talking to Oscar in a low voice, knowing he’d hear me anyway.
“Niko!” My sister exclaimed. “I think it worked! Your tattoo just faded.”
“It did?” I reached up to touch my neck, but of course felt nothing. If the spell had really worked that meant…we all looked at the robot, waiting for a sign of life.
If dad had really written the spell to include the robot, it should work. When time started to stretch out, I got worried and turned on my astral mode to see if Oscar was still with me. When I saw my body stand still and do nothing, it was clear Oscar wasn’t with me. He’d disappeared with the tattoo.
Back in my body, I tapped the robot’s shoulder. “Oscar?” But there was no response.
The only response I got was the huge thunk of my grandfather flipping one of our one seat sofas on its side.
He’d thrown it on the box of ashes, squishing it and making a huge cloud of dust float up in his own face. He coughed and waved at the cloud, which slowly drifted down and let us get a good view on why James had done this to our sofa.
Something that looked like an ashy partially formed arm was peeking out.
Holy shit, is that Assaria’s arm? Fuck, she really DOES come back to life. That’s disgusting.
Silence was settling down along with the ashes, when a loud clanking suddenly filled the room.
“SORRY for the delay!” The robot spoke with a mixture of clanks and screeches. “I couldn’t find the power button, but Oscar is up and running again! Woah what did I miss?”
“Oscar, I swear,” I said with a chuckle. “I have the weirdest family.”
And I love it.