“Niko you cheated again? I don’t care that it wasn’t on purpose. Not being in control is worse!” I snapped. Nikolas just sighed heavily on the other end. “They’re going to kick you out.”
“They’re not going to kick me out.”
“Well I would. You can’t even follow a simple rule. Also, I had to hear from Oscar that you’re still going outside flaunting about, playing the violin.” I nitpicked.
“I really don’t understand why everyone feels this need to comment on every decision I make – yet at the same time have a hoot reminding me that I’m turning 18 in a few months and that I’m going to have to make my own decisions.” I rolled my eyes as he spoke.
“Obviously because everyone worries about you.” And as much as Nikolas has grown his decision making still leaves a lot to be desired.
“See I don’t get that either.”
“That people would worry about you?”
“I’m not the only one with a Red label. I’m not the only one going outside. I’m not going to let these stupid laws hinder me.”
“Nikolas you’re going to get yourself killed!” I said in concern. He’d been nonchalant and reckless like this ever since James died, but…it used to be tame? Almost? Now in the last month, it’s like Niko is asking for trouble. Getting in random fights, putting himself out there, not participating in the missions anymore.
Is it because it’s that time of the year? This is when everything went bad last year.
“I can handle myself.” He affirmed. This was already more true than last year. With Arahelel, and Aleccas, and Tiffany and probably more people at the Dragons helping him train different things – Nikolas wouldn’t be finding himself beaten up in Dealer’s avenue again. Didn’t mean he was invincible. Far from it.
“Don’t get cocky.”
“I’m not showing up at the Hans’ doorstep am I?” He snapped. “I don’t pick fights with people I know could beat me.”
“Why are you picking fights at all?”
“I’m not going to stand by and let people walk over me.” I don’t think he even hears himself talk.
“You’re going to get killed that’s what. I asked Zac by the way. You lied to me. You said you were going to school.”
“I am!” He said. “For the exams.”
“You just spent a whole minute lecturing me on how I’m ‘putting myself out there’ and now you insist that I go 24/7 physically in a school that’s known for being supernatural friendly. Talk about waving a red flag.” I could practically feel him grimacing at me.
“Ok, let’s change subjects. How’s training with Aleccas? He’s got to be showing you the spell soon right?”
“You mean the training that’s not happening? He’s not happy that I keep using magic while I spar.”
“Well I’m not surprised! I have a great solution-”
“I’m hanging up now-”
“No! No, fine I’ll be nice. Oh just wait a second, I think I see Max.” I told Nikolas as I spotted Maxwell walking down the streets.
I raised my hand up to wave at him, but refrained to call his name when I saw who he was with. I jumped over the brick wall and hid behind the nearest table.
“Ah shit.” I muttered.
“He’s with her isn’t he.” Niko figured out instantly.
“Yes on a goddamn date.”
“What was her name again?”
“Vicky.” I hissed. I checked back and saw them getting away. I jogged forwards to hide behind the next building.
“What are you doing?” Nikolas asked.
“Requesting radio silence.”
“You’re following them?” Nikolas burst out laughing on the other end.
“Don’t insult me! I don’t get why he dates her. She’s an alcoholic like his mom was.” I sneered.
“You mean, you don’t get why he’s not dating you?”
“I don’t even get what you see in Maxwell. Is it the depressing need to be normal?” Nikolas snorted pathetically at his own insult.
“Where the hell are they going? Are they just taking a walk? How boring.”
“Or is it just the fact that he’s not into you like all the men always are?”
“You don’t get to judge my dating life, until you’ve actually had one.” I shot back.
“I take offense. It’s not that I’m incapable of dating who I want to date – there’s just no one I want to.” He clarified.
I laughed. I’ve been dragging Nikolas to clubs again – the only activity he can bear to spend several hours on with me. He’s actually started taking a liking to fooling around on the dance floor and the pool tables. Oh and a few bar fights here and there if he can manage it. One of those times, he’d taken a lot of amusement in making fun of my dating life so… “Yeah, that’s exactly what you said after I dared you to flirt with that girl. Remember? The blond one? You got cocky and prideful, but she rejected you and you came back saying ‘obviously she did since I wasn’t even interested in her’.” I said with a mocking imitation of his voice.
“How’s your stalking going?” He effortlessly transitioned.
“Wonderful thanks for asking.” I said, watching them enter a building. “They just went into some low rate bistro. Ack, if I go in they’ll notice me.”
“Yikes, you better turn back around then.”
“Nikoooo,” I pleaded.
“What? What now?”
“Can you go spy on them?”
“I’m physically very far away.”
“You know what I mean.”
“You want me to use my incredibly-unique-only-shared-with-one-other-person power to go eavesdrop on your crush?” He sneered.
“Oh come on. You use astral to cheat with Ara too.” I said. Something he’s only told me, and probably Ashlynn.
“Yes that’s called training. I’m not that good at using it with sparring yet clearly, cause she still beats my ass.”
“Okay how about this then. You use astral as a reason to skip school.” I would’ve said he used astral to cheat on the exams, but my brother is too prideful for that. He needs to prove he can still pass them on his own.
“How else am I going to pass the exams? I’m not going to school physically, but I can still get the subject matter in astral.” He shrugged.
I rolled my eyes. “Can we just agree that you use your astral power however you want? Come on you owe me this.”
“I do? I owe you something?”
“Um yes? Without me you wouldn’t still be living in that dusty warehouse.” I countered.
In a really strange turn of events, it turned out the warehouse Nikolas was bunking at was Tyzel’s, and that Ty had actually given his warehouse to Nikolas before the funeral.
I know! The two barely even interacted after Ty and I graduated, and now he was giving Niko his dump of a house?
But he did, and since Niko was still a minor I stepped in to deal with the papers. I told Niko he should sell it and buy something smaller and cleaner – he thought that meant I was implying he couldn’t afford it.
Months later, him and his gang of boys still live there. Though I think Zac is thinking about moving out. What with him and Ara reaching their one year anniversary I’m not surprised.
I’m more surprised that Zac is still with her. He’s never managed to stay with a girl more than a week. He always gets bored. Arahelel must be one hell of a gal.
I could tell Nikolas didn’t find my argument valid, but he decided to still indulge me. “Alright, alright. Give me a second.”
I waited anxiously, peaking inside the bistro.
I know it’s creepy and pathetic.
Over Maxwell too. I’ve known him since forever, who knew living together would make me notice him.
Who knew him dating would make me jealous.
He met her at work, like, that can’t last.
“Ok so,” Niko picked up again. “They’re talking about a colleague at work.”
I saw them laugh in the window. “Woah, woah! What’s that? What just happened?”
A second passed before Niko spoke again. “She pointed out some sauce on his face and spilled water in her plate while she did, and they both found that really funny.”
“Obviously cause she’s a loopy alcoholic.”
I heard Niko snort.
“She is!” I insisted.
“Have you ever even met her?”
“No, but she better hope I don’t.”
Nikolas continued laughing at me.
“What now? What are they saying now?”
“It’s all really boring. Talking about when they’re going to work together again, complimenting each other’s dishes and talking about a movie they saw the other day. Boring Green couple stuff.”
I pouted. “It’d be a lot more fun if that was me over there. It wouldn’t be as boring.” I resigned myself and started to head away. “You know I’m starting to get jealous of everyone else. It’s like everyone somehow manages to have perfect relationships amidst all this Hans chaos, and I’m pining over a guy I can’t even have.”
“I get what you mean.” Niko said. “The Dragons are filled with couples, it’s almost sickening. Zac and Ara obviously being the perfect example. Kevil and Annie. Terrance has been dating too, which is just weird. Everyone really, even Jesse, are all up there with the romance flu.”
“And we’re stuck down here, lonely single people.” I said, my voice drawling out.
“I wouldn’t go that far.” Niko snorted at my dramatic line. “You know, I think even Ashe might be heading in relationship zone too.”
“What? You’ve finally pulled yourself out of friendzone? Have you tried your amazing flirting talents on her? I wonder if she’d be more receptive?”
“I wouldn’t do that to her.” He sneered.
I burst out laughing. “Good to know you’re aware of your horrible flirting skills.”
“Enough never to do it again.”
“Oh come on,” I laughed. “I want nieces and nephews one day.”
“Oh god, not only do you want me to date, but you want to procreate too?”
“At this point you will before I do. Especially if I keep sticking to a guy that’s already taken.” I let out a loud sigh.
“I’ve never really thought about kids. Man, I don’t think I’d be a good dad.” He said.
“What gave it away? The suicidal tendencies?”
“Ha, ha. Genetically I just don’t think I’m engineered to be a good father. Our dads were kind of crappy, and then James wasn’t the ideal dad for his own children.”
“And then well, great grandpa Simon hasn’t been heard of since we were seven. I saw Zyla in the Hans and James died last year and we haven’t heard a peep from him. And I checked, he’s alive. Just holed up. So yeah, I don’t think I’m genetically wired to be a good dad.” Nikolas said.
“See Niko, I think that’s precisely why you could make a good dad. You’re aware of what made them bad dads.” I offered.
Niko’s silence was a good thing. I heard him sigh then.
“This Hans thing is really getting ridiculous. There are so many people in that prison Nikita, you don’t even realize. Hundreds and hundreds of supernaturals that get tested on daily. And there’s nothing right now we can do except help people leave to head for Stonebdrige. Or head for the other continent. The Hans are too well equipped. It’s like they’ve been preparing for this for years.”
“I know, it’s scary.”
“I’ve gone there several times in astral. But there’s nothing I can do. They’ve set up protections all over the place. We can’t teleport there anymore. It’s horrible watching all those people being locked up and not being able to help! Uncle Alec and Zyla are still there. Every day the Hans get stronger and we get weaker. It’s a losing battle and I can’t…fight it anymore. Not the way the Dragons do. It doesn’t feel like there’s a point anymore in going out and reassuring people everything is going to be alright. Because it won’t.” Nikolas spilled.
I’m a little stunned. Nikolas hasn’t been this open to me in…I can’t really remember to be honest.
I heard him sigh to himself. “Sorry didn’t mean to depress over here.”
“No, no, that’s fine I get where you’re coming from.” I actually, I never tell him this, but I admire that he even tries. It’s more than I can do. I can barely get through a day just caring for myself. “There’s no judgement on my end you know? If you ever want to just give up and come live with me.”
“Hey, I haven’t told you yet.” He said, avoiding it again. Well avoiding refusing me again. “I ran into somebody from the Hans.”
“What?” I gaped. “Shit, they found you?”
“It was just some teen from my school. She wasn’t a threat or anything. Like, really, she was kind of pathetic. I’m not high priority or anything for the Hans.”
“See how careless you’re being? Some low rate employee can find you!”
“You know, she was a shapeshifter. She showed up as Salandra.”
He said, as if it was just a casual piece of information. I could only imagine what went through his mind when he saw the face of the girl who’d killed practically our entire family. I grimaced, I wouldn’t be surprised if he lost his temper – as he’s clearly prone to it these days.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” He dismissed me. “It was mostly just surprise, but I knew it wasn’t her.”
“Yeah clearly, she’s dead.” I said. “But seeing her face could still-”
“Actually,” Nikolas interrupted me a little nervously. “She’s…not…dead.”
“Oh my- Niko – what? What are you saying?”
“She didn’t actually explode. She caused it, but she survived it. She’s been with the Hans, locked up.” He admitted.
I gaped speechless.
“I saw her there in astral when we were planning to save James, that’s how I know.” He continued. “And well because I followed the truck that took he-”
“It’s been a year.” I exclaimed. “You’ve let me think she was dead for a year. Why didn’t you tell me!?”
I heard him sigh. “It never really got brought up, and I never thought to tell you. It’s not like I think about it every time we talk.”
“Oh my god, I need a second. You’ve been sitting on this information for so long and I’ve just been in my bubble of ignorance this whole time.”
“It’s not that big of a deal.” Niko cut in. “I was really pissed at first, but now it’s the same as if she were dead anyway.”
“Oh my god.” I said again.
“Except that now she’s apparently sending shapeshifters to troll me.”
“Oh my god.”
“I’m just getting angry over here. The cause for the deaths of Vero and Aunt Erin – I took some comfort in the idea that Salandra had died with them. Now you’re telling me she’s alive? You might’ve gotten a year to process this, but I’m getting angry.”
“Well I’m not stopping you.”
“Fuck,” I cursed with a grimace. “She doesn’t even pay for it?”
“She’s the Hans’ guinea pig, so in a way I guess she is paying for it.”
“She killed our entire family. We only have dad’s side left. Everyone else, all of our pa and dad’s friends and their children and our friends are dead. That was practically thirty people that we knew Nikolas. And in some stupid feat she took them all down and tried to do the same to you. And why? Because you rejected her? No, no, whatever pain she’s going through right now is NOT enough.” I pressed.
“No, you’re right, it isn’t.”
We tried talking about other things – about how this was Niko’s last year of highschool, about the promotion I was bound to get any time now – but I was too angry, and Niko was too over it for me. He just acquiesced to everything I ranted about, but he wasn’t getting angry with me – he’d already done that.
So I had to hang up, because I was getting fed up with his emotional neutrality on the subject.
No one’s POV
Gloria waited patiently as her mother sifted through projects.
Mother was a strong word.
She was the woman who had taken her in after her parents had died in an accident.
Cherry Blossom, head of department of artifacts for the Hans, leaned back to read through another project.
“Can I make a request?” Gloria asked. Cherry looked up and waited. “The project I was just on, do they have another opening? I’d like to work with them again.”
“For a stealth field agent?” Cherry sighed impatiently. “No. But they have errand girl openings, is that what you’re looking for? Is that where you want to go in this company? Lower yourself to errand girl status? You want to fetch bottles why people do real work? If so, I have several errand girl cases for you.” She snapped, with an annoyed glare in her direction.
Gloria hung her head. “No that’s not what I want.”
“Good. If that’s truly the case and you want to keep aiming for the big leagues, I have a field project for you here. You’ll need to morph into this man. Get to practicing, you need to have him perfectly before you leave.” She said, printing the files on the subject.
Gloria nodded and left the room as she quickly as she could, passing by a man as she did.
Darwin Dudley, head of magic wavelengths, gave Cherry a face as he walked in.
“Your daughter is such a disappointment Mrs.Blossom. Such a waste of a good power. No one else has shapeshifting abilities.” He said.
Cherry scowled at the word daughter. It was a strong word.
She was the illegitimate bastard child her husband had gotten from an affair.
Darwin leaned over to see what she was doing. “Are you starting a new project?”
“No just authorizing Nathan Hans to use witch-blockers.” She replied.
“Finally caught that extra boy did he?” Darwin snorted. It had become a running gag in the company. Nathan Hans was a ridiculous disgrace.
“He’s just about to. He’s sent men out.”
“Good for him. Hey, think you could give me authorization to use the lizard? Gretel right? That’s what she’s named?”
“Aleccas Keeper is a big celebrity in Stonebridge right now. Revving the troops up and whatnot, and my team still can’t catch him. It’s ironic, when we had him we didn’t have the means to keep him, and now that we do we can’t even catch him!”
“You’re dragging this out.”
“I’m thinking if we threaten the Stonebridge folks with Gretel, they’ll catch Aleccas for me.” He offered with a grin.
“I don’t have any objections, but I think you need some warning.” She said, closing her computer. “We would’ve already done that if we could, see.”
“I know we can, we can control her.”
“We could.” She said, standing up. “Come with me.”
Cherry led him downstairs, through the corridors of containment units, till they reached Gretel’s.
“After her last use, she overcame our device and has refused to cooperate. Actually she tells us to make a better one.”
“A better one? Girl you want to be under our control?” Darwin snorted.
“Careful who you call girl.” The white-haired girl snapped. “I was there before your ancestors stepped foot here. They had better means in controlling me.”
“Violent too, we’ve had to install extra measures in her cell.” She said.
Darwin shook his head. “This place is just filled with psychos. If you’re cooperative we don’t need to control you girl.”
Gretel walked over and forced her hand out of the bars, the extra force field straining and wrapping around her arm to keep her back.
Darwin had jumped back in fright.
“She’s strong but she hasn’t broke the field yet.” Cherry said, trying to hide a slight smirk.
Darwin took several more steps back.
“You need something stronger.” Gretel declared, the shield still painfully stretched. “Find a better way to control me or five cities go down in a second. That’s the situation you have. Fix it.” She said, before retreating back.
“It sounds like a threat.” Cherry continued, leading him away. “But it’s a warning. She can’t control her own power, so she’s begging us to.”
“I’m not comfortable working near that anymore.”
“With your help we could join and make a project that takes her powers away and stores it in an artifact. My teams tried analyzing her magical wavelength, but we have nothing that matches it.”
“You certainly have my curiosity peaked.”
“I think we could make much better use of her power.” Cherry smiled.
“Time to go fill out some paperwork then!”
No behind the scenes video for today guys, or for a BIT. As some might have heard me say OR noticed, I’ve been making a lot of chapters in advance. Mostly because I’m hopping back into a university degree and I wanted to be prepared to meet my deadline without having to worry about it this time. Which means I was recording the behind the scenes AS I was making the chapter….BUT I lost all my files. My entire recorded videos folder got emptied – most likely by me as I mindlessly cleaned out my computer a few days ago.
Soooo yeah lol, no behind the scenes for a while cause I’m starting school right about now. I want to try and start making those tutorial videos I was talking about – but it’ll all depend on how busy I am.
ANYWHO CARRY ON folks