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Chapter Eighteen

"I came on my scooter,” Remy informed his friends.

“We came on the bus.” Hugo and Bodhi exchanged apologetic looks.

“Great.” Remy stood holding Jolie’s unconscious body, trying to figure out their next step.

“Let me take her for awhile,” Hugo moved in for the transfer.

They made it to the bus stop on the corner, propping Jolie up against Hugo on the bench

“Do you really have a plan for where we’re going?” Hugo asked.

“Red Rock,” Remy checked the bus schedule.

“Do buses go there?”

“They go close. I should be able to get us a ride if we can get to Summerlin.” He tried Rose’s number. There was no answer.

It would only take one transfer to get to Summerlin, the closest neighborhood to Calico Basin.

The city bus slowed, came to a stop, and the Fus climbed on, trying to look nonchalant about the unconscious girl among them.

“What’s going on with her?” the bus driver eyed them, suspiciously.

“She passed out,” Bodhi started his charm act.

“’Can’t hold her liquor,” Hugo added, improvising. Remy punched his arm and gave him a look.

The driver frowned. “You kids been drinking?”

“Not us, sir. Just her. We’re on a mercy mission, you know, save the girl. You understand.” Bodhi was laying on the charm thing.

The driver finished scrutinizing them then jerked his head toward the back of the bus. “Go on.”

They clambered into four of the empty seats, hoping their luck would hold.

It didn’t.

Jolie’s eyes popped open. “Get your hands off me before I kill you,” she growled.

“Calm down, Jo. It’s us,” Remy smiled nervously at the driver who was watching them in his big rearview mirror.

“I said, don’t touch me, boy!” The demon pushed fully into Jolie’s semi-conscious brain. With uncommon strength, she began to fight the Fus to keep them from restraining her. The few passengers on the bus tried to be small, huddling within themselves, and scrunching down behind the seats as the bus turned into a Jackie Chan style fight scene.

“Don’t hurt her,” Remy kept shouting as the Fus dodged the demon-driven girl’s manic offensive.

“Don’t hurt her?” Bodhi’s reply was imprinted with his usual sarcasm.

“You kids, sit down back there,” the bus driver shouted.

“Driver! Stop the bus. Stop the bus!” one of the riders started to scream.

“Sit down and stop playing around,” the driver ordered.

“Get away from me!” a patron howled.

“Driver, stop!” another yelled.

The whole bus was a chaotic mess of arms and legs, angry faces, and shouting.

The bus stopped. The driver stood up, his face apoplectic.

Bodhi slipped in behind Jolie and gave her a quick chop. She collapsed back onto the bus’ bench seat.

“Get off my bus,” the driver ordered.

The Fus gathered up Jolie and obeyed. Standing on the corner, they watched the bus drive away.

“We need a car,” Remy announced.

“And a driver,” Bodhi added.

“Someone open minded who won’t get too freaked out and ask too many questions,” Hugo made his contribution to the wish list. “Got a Jedi mind trick for that, Bodhi?”

“Can you think of someone who would want to help this chick out enough to come pick us up, before the cops do?”

Hugo sloughed Jolie’s backpack off his shoulder, pulled her phone out of the front pocket, and began scrolling through names.

“How do you know who to call?” Bodhi asked.

“I listen. I paid attention when she talked about her friends.” Hugo shook his head. “You guys are hopeless. You’re never going to have girlfriends.”

Iris didn’t pick up but Tru did. She and Marty were there in fifteen minutes.

Jolie was beginning to stir, indicating she was regaining consciousness as Tru opened the truck’s door and got a good look at her friend.

“She looks awful. What happened?” she glanced, suspiciously at the boys.

“It’s a long story. We need to get her to Red Rock, to my aunt’s. I can’t explain everything because I don’t understand it all myself yet, but I’ll tell you what I know on the way.”

Jolie’s eyes fluttered open. “Tru,” she said groggily. “You met Remy?”

“Yeah, just now, sweetie. Are you okay?”

“He’s a nice boy,” Jolie said. “Nicer than I deserve.” Her eyes flooded with tears. “I don’t want him to die, Tru, but it’s gotten so hard to fight him.”

Tru looked up at Remy. “To fight who, Jo? Who are you fighting? Remy?”

“No, no, not Remy. ‘Him’.” She dropped her voice to a whisper. “The demon. I’m not a bad person, Tru. I’m not.”

“No, you’re not, Jo,” Tru agreed. “You’re probably the best, most courageous person I know, except maybe for Marty here.” She smiled at her fiancé. “Not everyone would have done what you did on Solstice. Not everyone could have. Is that what this is about, what happened that night?”

Jolie seemed confused by the question. In a way it was, she had encountered the demon for the first time that night, but Axel’s death had come months later.

“What happened on Solstice?” Remy asked, looking from Jolie to Tru, alerted that there might be a clue in this for him.

Tru hesitated. “You’ll have to ask Jolie. It’s her story to share, or not.”

A police squad car drove slowly by, the officer on the passenger side taking a long interested look at the little group.

“They seem awfully interested in us,” Marty noted.

“There was an incident at the hospital,” Remy admitted.

“The hospital? Why was Jolie at the hospital?” Tru demanded.

“It sounds like we’d better get going,” Marty muttered. “You can explain, like you said, on the way. There’s room for Jolie and one of you up front.” The rest of you will have to ride in the back if you’re coming with.”

“I need to stay with Jolie.” Remy climbed in beside Jolie, propping her up against him.

“I don’t care where I ride, but I’m going,” Hugo jumped over the side of the pickup and settled into the bed. Bodhi did the same.

“Try and relax,” Remy told Jolie. He pulled up Rose’s number on his phone and called. She picked up.

“Thank god,” he breathed a sigh of relief. “Aunt Rose, it’s Remy. Listen, I need you to find Hoke for me. It’s important. We need to do an emergency wipe down for Jolie tonight. No. This is more serious than that. Have you got someone who can tend fire? Sifu’s there? That’s great. We’ll be there in half an hour.” He hung up and began to sing softly to Jolie in Lakota.

Tru looked over at him and smiled. “We really love this girl. Tell me she’s going to be okay.”

“I can’t yet, but if anyone can help her, it’s my uncle Hoke.”

“Okay. Then we’ll get her to him.”

Rose met them at the gate.

“Sifu has started the fire. Go explain the prayer to him.” Remy started to protest. “We’ve got the girl,” Rose stopped him. “Go do your part.”

Rose and Tru bundled Jolie out of the truck and into the house. They got her out of her jeans and tee shirt and into a long loose fitting cotton dress that covered her arms. Helping her into the little back room, they sat her down on the edge of the star quilt bed.

“There are still a few things I need to do,” Rose announced. “Can you watch her?”

Tru nodded, smiling. “We’re friends. She won’t give me any trouble.” Rose raised an eyebrow but let it go.

“Do you want to tell me what happened?” Tru asked Jolie when the other woman had gone. Jolie drew her knees up to her chest, hugging them, rocking herself gently as she looked around the room. “Remy said that Rick showed up and attacked your mom,” Tru tried to get Jolie to talk. “You must have been terrified. It’s a good hospital, though. Your mom will be all right.”

“Everyone keeps saying that. They’re just trying to make me feel better.”

“Is it working?” Tru tried to lighten the moment.

Tears gathered at the lower lids of Jolie’s eyes and trickled over, spilling down her cheeks.

“It wasn’t all right before. Why would it be all right now?”

“Oh God, sweetie. The questions you ask,” Tru pulled her friend into a hug. “You’re alive, your mom is alive, and that scumbag, Rick, is going to be locked up for a long time. It may not be great, but it’s a start.”

Jolie wriggled out of Tru’s arms, staring at her with hard, cold eyes. “Are you always this naive?”

“It’s not easy but I do try.”

Remy came in. Crawling onto the bed behind Jolie so that she could lean against his chest.

“Thank you for saving us,” he drew the edges of the star quilt up around them both.

“I think saving you is overstating the case a bit, but you’re welcome,” Tru replied.

“Please let Marty know how grateful I am for his help--how grateful we both are.”

“Sure.” Tru studied the two young people, seeing how Jolie’s body relaxed now that Remy was near. “Do you want me to stay?” she asked.

“It’ll be a few hours before the fire is ready and we can take her in,” Remy replied. “I’m going to try to get her to sleep a little if I can.”

“Should I wait and go in--”

“No,” Remy said, firmly. “I’m not trying to be mean or exclusive or anything, but this is not going to be a first timer’s lodge. A wipe down is a special healing and this one could get pretty intense.”

“Okay. I understand,” Tru said, reluctantly. “You’ve got my number. You’ll call me when she’s out?”

“I will. And thanks again.”

“I meant what I said before, about her being special. It wasn’t just words. Jolie is...well, you don’t meet people like her very often.”

“No. You don’t.” Remy nodded. “She told me about her visions and how she sometimes knows things.”

“And what did you think about that?” Tru asked, taking stock of this new boy in her friend’s life.

“I think she is very brave.”

“This thing, you’re going to do, this wipe-down? Will it fix whatever has her twisted up inside?”

“I hope so. Hoke is a good man and he knows a lot about the old ways.”

“I’ll be waiting for your call.” Tru left Jolie and Remy sitting together in the dark, wrapped up in the star quilt.

Jolie drifted through a foggy dreamscape, unable to see or find her way. Somewhere off in the fog, a young man was singing.

“Wakanta ha-ya wa-oo-way-loy yo.”

She did not understand the words, but she felt their meaning vibrating her heart.

“Great Mystery, Hear me. Help me. Heal me. I want to live in a good way, but I am struggling, and I need your help.”

Once during the night, Jolie opened her eyes to find Bodhi sitting in a chair beside the bed, watching Remy and her sleeping. His elfin face was a study in anguish. Jolie felt Remy’s heartbeat against her back and drifted back off.

She woke again. The rhythm of Remy’s breathing had changed. His chest against her back stuttered and trembled; he was sobbing quietly. Bodhi’s head hung low between his shoulders so that she could not see his face, but everything about him said that he, too, was crying.

“Remy?” Jolie murmured, sleepily. “What’s wrong? Why is Bodhi crying?”

“Go back to sleep, Jo. Nothing is wrong,” he lied, sweetly.

The next time she opened her eyes, she was alone under the star quilt. Remy was beside Bodhi’s chair his arms wrapped around the slim boy. Sensing her attention focused on them, Bodhi looked up and held her gaze.

“I will take care of him. I will keep him safe. No matter what it takes," he promised her silently.

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