“Marlee,” Kase ended up panting after a while. “Wait up.” He punctuated each word with a breath in the middle.
I wasn’t even going to waste my breath trying to respond.
“Come on guys, keep up,” Marlee teased.
I rolled my eyes. “Wait up,” I muttered. “You’re the one dashing up the hillside like it’s a race.”
Kase giggled by my side. “I think I might’ve started it,” he said sheepishly.
I reached over to ruffle his hair a bit. “Oh, I know you did. Now you owe me an explanation with your brother that won’t cause him to kill me.”
Kase nodded, then smiled with innocence that I knew was faked because he had never looked so childlike. “You only said that he could hurt you as much as I’ve been hurt. I’m not dead.”
I shot him a look. “Because having my arms practically ripped out of their sockets is better than just dying.”
Kase frowned at me. “If you had any experience with people dying, you wouldn’t say that.”
I thought back to the two people I’ve seen die in the past few days. “I think I’ve seen enough death,” I told him.
“You haven’t felt it, though,” Kase said.
I looked at him. “Are you about to blow my mind by saying that you can raise people from the dead?”
Kase grinned. “Well, technically, when people stop breathing, they die, but people have been revived by means of CPR and stuff.”
I closed my eyes and let myself groan for a moment before looking at him. “I thought you were going to tell me something that sounds like nonsense like Marlee did. She said that people can control the weather.”
“They can,” Kase replied, shooting me an odd look.
I tried to convey my thoughts with my look, because I don’t even think that what he said was worthy of a ‘seriously.’ “Did you have something to tell me that sounds like it can be real?”
Kase thought for a moment. “I mean, it’s relative…”
I tried to restrain an eyeroll.
Kase laughed. “Nah. What I wanted to tell you is that there are people like the people that Marlee mentioned—the weather controllers—who work alongside death. If you get on their bad side, they kill you dead, but they can also raise you from the dead if someone convinces them that a certain person being dead is a mistake.”
I stared at him. Some expletives were forming on my tongue because that seriously meant that even if you kill someone, they might not stay dead. I knew all too well how easy it was sometimes to talk people into doing something they didn’t want to do.
“Well,” I managed, nodding as I looked away, “that complicates things.”
Kase snorted. “You think?”
I groaned, covering my eyes and trying to stop the headache that was coming on. “You know, you were supposed to be helping me feel better about leading people, not worse.”
Kase patted my shoulder. “You’ll be the best leader possible,” he assured me. “It’s just that your task might be a little bit impossible.”
I stared at him. “That’s the ten-year-old in you coming out, isn’t it?”
Kase frowned. “I’m eleven, so no.”
I closed my eyes. “Right.” I tilted my head. “That’s the eleven-year-old in you coming out, then?”
Kase grinned. “I wouldn’t know. All I know is that I’m not acting younger than I am.”
I was pretty sure that he winked at me before dashing up the hill to catch up with Marlee. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what was up with people running away from me just after saying something super snarky. They weren’t giving me an opportunity to snark back and it wasn’t fair.
“Hey!” I called after him. “Come back you little rascal!”
His shrieks of laughter could be heard as he kept running away from me.
I shook my head, a smile crossing my lips as I began running up the hill after him, a new burst of energy filling me. I couldn’t have told you the cause even if I tried, but I wasn’t complaining. Being tired wasn’t something that I reveled in. In fact, I hated it.
It made me feel incompetent and weak. It was human, but I almost hated to be human. It meant that I could break, and I couldn’t stop people from hurting me.
It was cruel and I didn’t know how to stop it other than doing my absolute best to defy the cruel, cruel world.
Marlee reached the top of the hill and turned back just in time to catch Kase. “Where do you think you’re going?” she asked him, lifting him off the ground. I was just close enough to see her wince with effort.
Kase kept giggling, breathing heavily. I’m not sure that laughing while running helped you breathe at all. “Calypso,” he managed to tell Marlee before having to stop talking to breathe a bit.
I reached the top of the hill, smirking at him. “Sorry, what was that? I’m innocent.”
Marlee shot me a look. “Are you, though?”
I gaped at her. “Excuse you? Of course, I am! He’s making up nonsense!” I glanced at him. “Well, actually, all he said was my name, so not really, but whatever he’s concocting in his brain, it’s not true!”
Kase grinned at me and I suddenly realized that the ball was in his court now.
I muttered a curse under my breath.
Kase burst out laughing, nearly cackling at me. “Calypso, you are so busted.”
I shot him a look. “I legit did nothing. You were telling me about the killing people who raise other people from the dead sometimes and then you said something about your age and dashed off.”
Kase looked at Marlee and said very seriously, “she called me a ten-year-old.”
Marlee turned back to me and raised an eyebrow, amusement sparkling in her eyes. “Callie? What do you have to say for yourself?”
I stared at her. “Seriously?”
Kase laughed again. “Is that your favorite word?”
I growled in annoyance. “It’s not my fault that my brain is being overloaded with so much information—”
“I mean, you usually ask for it,” Marlee said.
“Do not!” I protested, totally knowing I was telling a half-truth of sorts.
Marlee rolled her eyes. “Okay, you manage to get people to tell you things without asking to hear them and then your brain nearly explodes because there’s just so much you didn’t know. Sound about right?”
I stared at her mutely, not even bothering to confirm or deny her clarified accusation.
“Sounds pretty spot on,” Kase said, confirming it for me.
My gaze snapped to his and I saw that his eyes were sparkling, too. Suddenly, I realized something.
“Are you two… messing with me?” I asked in astonishment.
Marlee grinned. “Nah.”
Kase giggled. “What she said, just the opposite.”
I closed my head and looked up, a smile sliding across my face before I could stop it. “I hate you two,” I said insincerely, looking back at them.
They were both still grinning.
“We know,” Kase said easily, “we also know that you’re a terrible liar sometimes.”
I gaped at him. “What?”
Marlee grinned with Kase throwing her arms open. I had the feeling that they had talked about conspiring against me at some point. I have no clue when they would’ve had the opportunity to discuss this, but they were working in unison pretty well.
“Come on, Callie,” Marlee said, smirking, “You love us too much to lie.”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “Don’t push it.”
She stepped forward, but I refused to move. She was still smirking, more amusement sparking in her eyes. She put her finger on my sternum and pushed.
“I just did.”