I dare you to keep a straight face on in every situation.
I dare you to do better than I.
Are you cold or warm-blooded?
Don’t be a hypocrite.
Don’t be like me.
There’s only one me.
Welcome to the mind fuck
It’s all very fleeting you know.
I’ll admit, I’m worried. The police at Niko’s house? I didn’t come here to watch him get arrested.
I came to mend bridges.
I came to secure our friendship.
And to prove to myself that the hesitance I heard through the phone – the reluctance – was just my imagination. His rejection was just denial.
With the music blaring from my headphones, I moved over to the Whitelight home, peering in with curiosity. Instead of knocking at the door, I circled a bit more. The house has a huge window with a beautiful view inside after all.
If I do see Nikolas getting arrested…well I wouldn’t be surprised. It wouldn’t be a first. Maybe they found out he participated in that experiment even though he’s a supernatural.
I can’t see…is that…I could be wrong. I haven’t met him in person, but…yes that does look like Edmund Pallen. I walked closer, practically shoving my nose against the glass. I could only hear a faint murmur from the policemen inside. What happened to Niko’s father?
I stared for a while, watching the man lying on the ground with his mop of red hair. It was like Niko’s, but paler, pinker. He seemed strangely serene for someone laid out between two disappointed cops.
It’s all so fleeting you know.
I hear he was a writer. I never read any of his books, nor do I know anyone who did, but I don’t read books for fun so I’m not a good judge. For someone who sat in front of his computer all day he had a good form and a fair amount of muscle. Not that any of it was moving.
The cops noticed me then, turning around to lock eyes with me. I slipped my headphones back on and sneaked away with a wave. I brought my hand down as a familiar tingle of built-up tension filled my palm.
I stared at that man’s body for at least 3 minutes. No one can hold their breath that long.
And boom goes the clap.
“Hyah!” I huffed as I drew out my katana in what had to be a badass manner. The weapon still felt strange in my hand – granted I’d only held it a handful times since grandpa had gotten them for me.
Tiffany, the heavily tattooed lady, shook her head at my extravagance. “That’s way too big of a movement Nikolas. You’ll break your sword that way. Use the steps I taught you.” She said.
She was more of an outsider to the Dragons than an actual member. She actually dubbed herself the Weapons Provider, and was – like most people here I was finding – recruited by Assaria Clavez.
Oh and great thing, she didn’t just provide weapons – she also knew how to use them. She has an impressive resume of martial arts and expertise in various weapons – except, I think it was, the boomerang and nunchakus. And she’s barely starting her 40s. Masak’s mom is a badass.
“Right, right.” I nodded. Turns out katana wielding isn’t as big and showy as I thought it was. I did as she instructed and she nodded.
“You were a quick learner for the basic steps, so let’s see if the same applies to wielding the weapon.” She said. We bumped into each other recently and she generously offered to teach me how to use my katanas – as well as how to maintain them. She didn’t mention anything about the lack of probability of me ever using them, but if that was truly my intention I wouldn’t be training with swords. Not in this day and age.
This is for fun!
“Shouldn’t I be using both swords?” I asked, thinking of the second katana I’d left behind. Hmm, maybe I should give them names instead, to simplify things.
“You have to be familiar with each first, training both your wrists independently.” She explained. Well alright, I can be patient. “They’re not sharpened, but you could still cut yourself. Especially if you swing it like an axe.” She said with a laugh. “Once you’re comfortable with both hands we can tackle dual wielding.”
I nodded, more than convinced. “Alright then! What are we learning today?”
“The six basic cuts.”
No one’s POV
It’s not jealousy. That would be ridiculous.
It’s not envy, it’s too soft for that. James didn’t want to admit it. Not properly.
But seeing the way the elder vampire acted around the leader of the Dragons – seeing him act way younger than he was – was bothering James on a level he wasn’t ready for.
It wasn’t the fact that he knew the white-eyed and his mother almost became an item – as weird as that thought suddenly was – no, it hinged more on the fact that of all the people on this planet, Kevil happened to be the only one James ever truly compared himself to.
It started when he’d first met him – tied up on a chair. Kevil was old enough to be his father, but James had always felt a sense of superiority over him. Unsurprisingly considering the younger vampire had mentally overpowered him. Not only that, but James had always viewed him as kind of…pathetic.
Kevil reeked of solitude. He practically demanded to be left alone. He had no friends to speak of, and was betrayed by the ones who declared they were. He’d been tortured and chased, and he lived a pitiful existence. That’s what James had always seen.
In a way, Kevil had been James’ landing pad for his self-esteem. As long as this vampire – who somehow still seemed so brave, who had stood up to Velor even with no mental abilities, who displayed this aura of wisdom and experience – never seemed better off then James, than the golden-eyed vampire could be satisfied with his own existence.
But now, this once sad shell of a man, walking around with only one purpose (that being protecting the girl now officially named Gretel), seemed genuinely alive.
And the continuous flirty glances Kevil and Annie kept exchanging during their discussions over saving Gretel were getting on James’ nerves.
He was getting more and more anxious to get this done with. The only reason James hadn’t stormed into the Hans stronghold was entirely because of Annie Defount. She kept bringing logic down onto the table to prevent it, and James unfortunately had to agree with them.
Finally, after these endless political like meetings, they’d settled on an ideal date. They’d located which Hans facility had Gretel thanks to their sources, as well as the perfect moment to strike. The scientific community was having a big meetup over the current supernatural affairs to share their thoughts on what was really happening with magic. And that meet-up was not happening in Cloverfield – where Gretel was being held.
“Pardon me.” The teenager coldly apologized after bumping the vampire out of his train of thought.
Of all the people in this tiny bankrupt organization, this child was the one James had his eye closest on. Not because of her habit of being grumpy and rude to everyone – she had her reasons for it, though James considered them petty – it was because of her general thought processes. James was beginning to realize that Assaria had a huge influence within the Dragons, and though she’d been overthrown, he could feel the residual loyalties.
For now the ex-witch was locked in a box, stashed in the far end of one of the many rooms of this place. James monitored her carefully – he sensed it every time she came to life, and he felt her panic and fear as she suffocated to death again. The fact that her immortality brought her back to life angered him to no end. He didn’t understand it and he didn’t know how to counter it. So he bitterly relished in her punishment. It was the only effective method he knew for now to keep her down and he intended to keep her there until a better one was found.
And that meant surveying Tatiana with caution. Of all the members of this organization, she was the one with the strongest loyalties to Assaria Clavez. She was the one who repeatedly brought her up in conversations and the one who was the most disgusted by the ex-witch’s situation. Several people were uncomfortable with the situation. Nikolas in particular.
James’ grandson was still pretty young. He was a brave and kind boy, but he hadn’t seen and lived through what Assaria had done. He’d met her a few times in a graveyard – he didn’t know what kind of monster she truly was. James had attempted once to explain it to him, that this cycle of torture was nothing compared to the suffering she had caused.
Nikolas still wasn’t convinced. He’d tried to bring forth that the woman no longer had any powers – that the threat she posed wasn’t real – and that she had forgotten everything anyways. He admitted that the situation made him feel sick, no matter who was in that box, it was a horrible fate to willingly apply.
That woman wasn’t anyone however, and whether she remembers who she was or not, changed nothing. Her behavior was still the same – and her willingness to sacrifice others to get what she wants was as well. Nikolas wouldn’t understand that yet – but at least he understood that James would not let that woman out, not while there wasn’t a better solution.
Actually James hoped that Nikolas would never truly understand his own motivations – because that would imply the boy would need to go through all the obstacles he had gone through. And Nikolas had already suffered enough as it was – at only sixteen.
James hoped the best for that boy. He didn’t have much to do here in Ridgevalley, and he tended to do his best not to stick by Nikolas’ side 24/7 when the Dragons weren’t talking about the rescue mission. The boy had a life to rebuild, and having his grandpa at his shoulder constantly probably wasn’t any fun. So James strayed into town, he surveyed the tension, and he kept an eye on Dealer’s Avenue and it’s kidnappings. He also kept watch on Aleccas Keeper – who had wandered into Ridgevalley as well, but done nothing else since. James still couldn’t sense where Xavier was.
He still made sure to spend some time with Nikolas every day, usually late in the evening. He liked hearing about his grandson’s day. The red-haired boy would rant to him about the coming exams, he’d show off the phone his sister had gotten him, he’d laugh about how Arahelel had beaten his ass again during their sparring, he’d gush over having someone else to play with astral…
Sometimes Nikolas would also tell him about some more traumatizing things; he’d talk of the monster in the basement, of the cat that would try to kill him, of his worries over Salandra, of the distance he feels from his friends and family since the trial, and…they would often talk about Xavier. Both of them needed it.
It saddened him to hear what Nikolas had already gone through so far – and it shocked him the lack of support he’d received in the process.
So when James had caught whiff of Edmund’s death, he’d hardly felt sad about it.
But he was painfully aware of the bad news this was for Niko. The boy didn’t really have any beef with his papa. He certainly didn’t wish him dead.
And now, just when Nikolas was starting to loosen up, laugh more and settle into a comfortable routine, James had to come and be the bearer of bad news.
As groan worthy as fate was being, James was nevertheless going to try his best to make sure the rest of Niko’s childhood was at least smile worthy.