Chapter Ten: Storms
*Trigger Warning* This chapter contains content surrounding suicide that may be triggering to some readers
Important A/N at the end of this chapter, please read
I was at Katya’s parents house, visiting her while my parents were out.
I remember mom and dad hugging me goodbye.
They both had red hair. Mom had green eyes. I remember thinking how pretty they were, how they looked like emeralds. Her hair was curly, like mine, but she kept it short. Dad’s eyes were blue, like the colour of the sea. He had freckles like me.
They waved to me as they left; I waved back. They told me they would be back soon, before it got dark out.
Later it got dark out earlier than I thought it would.
Dark clouds blocked out the light.
The rain started to pour.
Lightning illuminated the sky.
Mom and dad weren’t back to pick me up yet.
Katya hugged me, telling me she was sure they would be back soon. Her hair was long then, the blonde colour falling over her shoulders. I kept my hopes up, praying that they were just held up. That nothing bad happened.
The rain fell in sheets from the sky.
They still weren’t back.
I started to lose faith.
Katya kept reassuring me, but even she was starting to get worried.
Thunder cracked, making me jump.
It scared me.
The lightning was as bright as ever.
The thunder clapped louder, louder, louder with each passing wave.
Like it was getting stronger.
Fear bubbled inside me.
Later, someone came to the door. I never saw who it was.
Was it mom and dad, I wondered?
I got excited, but no one else seemed to be.
I never heard the conversation in the doorway.
They were whispering, quiet, inaudible to me.
Katya’s mom looked at me with sadness in her blue eyes as the unknown stranger left the door and disappeared into the stormy night.
She told me that they weren’t coming back.
Thunder clapped louder than ever.
It rang in my ears.
The rain continued to pour as I cried into the night.
Thunder jolts me awake in the darkness.
I've never minded the rain, the smell of it after the clouds would part, the gentle sound of a downpour, the pitter patter on rooftops. It reminds me of nights my mom used to make me hot cocoa and tell stories with dad about their wild adventures, curled up in blankets.
But I hate thunderstorms. I hate how loud they are, the sound, what they represent to me.
Sometimes, when I was younger, I hoped that when I saw the lightning light up the sky, I’d see my parents again, that they’d be there in a blinding flash of light. That they’d come back. That the night they died was just a nightmare.
But they would never appear in the light, and part of me knew they never would.
I kicked that habit when I was young; when I realized it was hopeless, that it was impossible for them to come back. That the night they died wasn’t just a nightmare, that it was real, that I’d never see my parents again in this lifetime.
At times, I’m able to sleep through thunderstorms, blissfully ignorant of their existence, but other times I can’t ignore them, no matter how hard I try.
I shiver, trembling, trying to block out the thunder clapping sound as it booms though the sky, ringing in my ears, breaking through me.
But I can’t block it out.
I know I can’t.
Every time I think I’m okay, it breaks through the air again, sending me back to square one all over again, like it’s splitting me in two.
I cover my ears, trying to get rid of the sound in my head, curled up on the middle of the mattress.
My room illuminates with light for a split second, the thunder coming back moments later.
I can’t do this.
I can’t block it out.
I can’t ignore it.
Tears prick the corners of my eyes.
I wish I could’ve stopped them from going out that night, to stay in, to prevent their death somehow. But I was only seven when they died. How could I have stopped it? How could I have convinced them? I was just a child. Knowing there was nothing I could do almost makes it worse. That I had no control over what happened. But I feel like I should have. I could have done something, anything, but how could I have known what would happen?
I pull the covers against my stomach, clutching them.
My clock reads somewhere around two in the morning.
I wonder to myself how long the storm will last. I need to get some sleep tonight, but I can’t. Not while the thunder is so loud.
I can’t be alone right now. But I can’t just wake someone up.
Unless they’re already awake.
Coburn knows that storms are hard for me sometimes. He’s known that for as long as he’s known me. He did say I could see him at any point during the night if I needed to.
Do I need to?
Without thinking any more about it, I pull my covers off me and slowly walk to my doorway, entering the hallway. The light is bright, blinding me for a moment before my eyes adjust to the illumination.
I softly knock on the door.
“Coburn? Are you awake?” I ask, my voice cracking.
I open the door, listening to it creak slightly as I push, hearing the sound again as I shut it with a soft click.
I can make out soft shapes in the dim light, tiptoeing my way closer to him at he sits up, rubbing his eyes.
“Saf? What’s going on?” He murmurs sleepily, “is everything okay?”
I shake my head.
“What’s wrong?” He gets up and I can make out a concerned look on his face in the dim light, his hands on my face, panic in his voice.
I don’t answer as I wrap my arms around him, leaning my head against his chest. I suddenly realize he’s not wearing a shirt, but I don’t care. I just need him close to me.
I don’t mean to cry, but I can’t stop once it starts. All I can think about is my parents, how they got into an accident during the thunderstorm, how they never came back, how alone I felt the moment I realized they’d be gone forever.
“Hey, shh, it’s okay,” he whispers. He puts one arm around my shoulders, the other holding my head against him. He feels so warm.
I start to tremble again as another wave of thunder claps through the sky and he holds me tighter. I listen to his heartbeat to ground me. It’s quick but strong, like him.
“Can I stay here?” I sob.
He gives me a quick kiss on the top of my head.
“Of course,” he says warmly.
We move to his bed and I pull the thick, soft covers over me, my head laying on his chest, listening to his heart, feeling the rise and fall of his body.
“Just breathe,” he whispers as thunder rings through the air again, causing me to vibrate. I focus on his heartbeat again, letting it block out the thunder. Feeling his strong arms around me. Feeling the softness of the sheets. Smelling the sweet woody aroma in the room.
Slowly, I start to relax, my body stops trembling at every thunder strike. The sound stops ringing in my ears. I remember good things about my parents, how mom used to read picture books to me before I went to sleep, how dad would tell me old stories about his adventures in his earlier years. The memories calm me somehow, like they’re erasing the memory of the night they died, at least in this moment.
“Are you still awake?” I mumble after a while.
“Mmhmm,” Coburn responds, turning his head towards me, “feeling better?”
“Yah, I think so,” I feel my cheeks get hot, “thank you,” I whisper, moving my head a little.
“I’d do anything for you,” he says, placing his hand overtop of mine, giving it a small squeeze.
I blush harder at his comment, especially now that I’m more aware of how close I am to him, but I don’t want to be anywhere else right now. I feel so safe when I’m with him.
“I’m sorry, I don’t usually get emotional like this –”
“What?” He whispers, moving onto his side so we’re facing each other, “no, you’re allowed to be upset,” he says with finality, propping his head up with his arm. His dark eyes glimmer in the dim light.
“I know. I just don’t like to,” I say, looking down.
“I don’t either . . .” he trails off, “but we have each other, right?” He looks at me hopefully.
I nod, smiling back at him.
“Of course,” I pause, shivering a little as another round of thunder rings through the air, “is it okay if I sleep here tonight?”
He tucks a piece of my hair away from my face.
His thumb skims my cheek and I let the feeling drown out the last of the thunder, letting it slowly lull me to sleep.
I didn’t know where I was running to, but I was running away.
Running away from everything.
I didn’t want to go back. Not without mom and dad.
I wanted to talk to them again. I wanted to hear the rest of dad’s stories. I wanted mom to read to me again.
I kept running, running until I came upon the beach, where the treeline met the soft sand.
I collapsed from exhaustion.
I sat at the edge of the treeline, alone, by myself, sobbing into my knees.
I’m not sure how much time passed, I don’t remember having a great concept of time as a child. But I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up, my eyes meeting a boy a few years older than me. He had a collection of string in his hands, attached to a small kite that sat a little ways away from me, slightly buried in the treeline.
It was light blue, the boning made of wood, strung together with the same string that kept the kite from flying away.
I remember him crouching next to me, his hand moving away from my shoulder. His hair was short, dark brown, slightly windswept from the ocean breeze close by. His eyes were a medium shade of brown, soft, kind, empathetic.
But I didn’t know if I could trust him. He was a stranger, after all.
“Are you okay?” He asked softly.
I opened my mouth to answer when another wave of emotion passed over me, causing my eyes to well with tears.
I shook my head and curled back up into a ball, quietly sobbing, half expecting his boy to collect his kite and leave me where I was.
But he didn’t.
I turned my head towards him again, a warm smile crossing his face.
“What’s wrong?” He asked.
“I can’t tell you, you’re a stranger,” I replied.
I suppose I was only seven. Mom and dad always told me to never talk to strangers.
“I’m Coburn. What’s your name?”
A small smile appeared on my face.
“Saffire,” I replied.
“Well, now we’re not strangers,” he said with a toothy grin.
I couldn’t help but smile a little more.
“Are you all alone?” He asked.
“Aren’t your parents around here?”
I scrunched up my face and shook my head, trying not to cry again.
He couldn’t have known. It was an innocent enough question.
“People keep saying they’re not coming back. Does that mean they’re dead?” I asked.
He nodded with a grim expression before the kind smile reappeared.
“I think so. But you’ll see them again one day.”
My eyes welled with tears again.
“But I want to see them now.”
“A part of them is still here though, don’t you think?”
I gave him a funny look.
“They’re still with you. In your heart, in your memories, parts of them are still here, even if you can’t talk to them.”
I blinked at him, astonished, but his words made me feel better.
I wanted to talk to my parents, but I never thought about how parts of them could still be here. It made sense when I thought about it. I still felt close to them in my heart, even if I was too young to fully realize what that meant.
“Do you really think so?” I asked, still in a little disbelief.
“I know so,” silence fell over the conversation for a few moments before he spoke again, “My kite is just over there. Do you want to fly it with me?” He asked shyly.
Without thinking, I nodded.
Maybe this boy – Coburn – understood what I was feeling, in some way.
I flew his kite with him into the late afternoon, feeling myself relax for the first time in a week.
I awake to the sound of shifting bed covers and the sound of footsteps walking around the room.
Is there someone in my room?
I keep my eyes closed as a soft smell fills my nose; I still can’t put my finger on what spice that is. Cinnamon perhaps. The blankets on top of me are so warm, I want to burrow inside them so that I’ll never feel cold again. I wrap them tighter around me to feel as much security as I can from them, like weighted blankets that I’ve heard stories about but never had the chance to try.
Wait, I don’t have any diffusers with cinnamon in my room, and my blankets are hardly ever this warm because I’m always so cold.
My eyes flutter open and I see Coburn facing his closet, his back to me, wearing dark jeans and a loose shirt, like he’s trying to decide what to wear today.
Why am I sleeping in his room?
Suddenly my mind catches up with the events from the night.
The storm. Coming to see him. The thunder.
He turns around and I close my eyes, turning my back to him, my face feeling hot at the prospect that I spent the night in his room.
Or, most of it, I suppose.
Saf, what were you thinking?
I hear footsteps come towards me before the bed shifts under his weight as he sits next to me.
“Hey, Sparks,” he whispers.
I pretend to be asleep, but it’s hard to hide the grin stretching across my face.
“I know you’re awake,” he says lightly.
“How do you know?” I mumble.
“I saw you looking at me,” he responds, mussing up my hair.
The thought makes me blush harder.
I turn myself towards him and prop my head up on a pillow.
“Are you doing okay? You scared me a little last night,” he says with a small grin.
I gaze at him sleepily. He hasn’t styled his hair yet, parts of it falling in front of his forehead on one side.
“I – er – I’m okay, I think,” I say, rubbing my eyes, “I can usually sleep through storms now, I was just feeling emotional last night.”
“I know,” he says in a reassuring tone, “thinking about your parents?”
I nod, keeping my eyes down.
“Sometimes it just gets to me. I can usually work through it, but – I don’t know.”
“You don’t have to explain, I get it.”
I look up at him, kind, brown eyes gazing back at me. I can’t stop myself from smiling, though it feels like I can’t ever keep myself from smiling around him.
“Thanks for being here, I imagine it caught you off guard,” I say with a nervous laugh.
He smirks, “maybe a little, but it’s fine.”
The other day, the morning after the Jaxson incident, I woke up to him shouting at some point in the late morning, like he was having a nightmare. I have no idea what it was about, maybe it was residual adrenaline from the night before, who knows. I haven’t asked him about it, mostly because I want to respect his privacy; I don’t want him to feel like he has to share everything with me if he doesn’t want to, but I want him to know I’ll always support him in whatever he’s going through.
I decide not to bring it up. Not yet, at least.
I reach up and run my hands through his hair in an attempt to get some of the pieces away from his forehead. It works for a moment, the strands swooping over his head before they spring back to their original position. I notice how soft his hair is, like strands of silk between my fingers.
He chuckles and runs his hands through his hair, only for the same thing to happen again.
“It’s hard to style without gel,” he explains with a laugh.
“Ugh, I can imagine,” I dramatically throw my head on the pillow, “my hair is impossible to style, period.”
“No, it’s not,” he says with a grin, “it always looks nice, Tess would kill to have your hair,” he chuckles.
Tessa is Coburn’s little sister. She’s a few years younger than me, but we were relatively close growing up. Not quite as close as I was with Coburn, but I always had fun talking to her. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve seen her in a number of months.
“How is Tessa, by the way?” I ask.
“She’s Tessa,” he says with a grin, “I think she’s doing good, last I saw her she was still with my parents, but I think she’s wanting to find her own place at some point.”
“Mm, tell her Katya’s looking for a roommate,” I add.
“I will next time Luna gives us a day off so I can visit her,” he chuckles, “you can come too, if you want. I imagine she’d be happy to see you again.”
I grin back at him.
“Yah, that’d be fun.”
The covers fall off my upper body as I sit up, hitting me with a wave of chills. I look down and blush harder when I realize I’m only wearing a sports bra and shorts with a very thin long sleeved shirt overtop that doesn’t do much to cover me. I quickly grab the blankets and pull them over me again, hoping he didn’t notice.
How did I not think this through?
“So, what’s happening today?” I ask, trying to be as nonchalant as possible; I can’t tell how successful I am.
He shrugs with a grin.
“Not sure, probably training. Luna might send some of us to the Shadow Realm in a few days, just to see if we can get more info on the whole possession thing.”
“Do you think they’ll try it again?”
He opens his mouth to answer when a loud, high pitched scream echoes throughout the building.
We look at each other, confusion in his face.
“What was . . .”
Suddenly the wind outside the window intensifies, whistling by forcefully.
Is the storm coming back?
My heart pounds at the thought.
A wave of realization passes over his face and he looks at me before running towards the door, beckoning me towards him.
“I think it’s Ana, come on,”
I give him a look as I hop off the bed, ignoring the wave of chills that pass over me at the action, “what makes you so sure it’s Ana?”
A wave of fear passes over his eyes, like he’s remembering something.
“I . . .” he sighs, shaking his head out of his daze, “trust me on this.”
“I always trust you,” I blurt, feeling heat in my cheeks.
He gives me a small grin as he opens the door and we walk into the hallway, my eyes taking a moment to adjust to the light – as they always do. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to how bright the hallways are; I always feel like I could get a migraine whenever my eyes have to get used to the light again.
A large gust of wind whips through the narrow corridor, nearly knocking me over. It sends chills down my spine, my teeth chattering a little, like a cold winter’s storm blew through the hallway. I grab the wall to steady myself. The wind whistles as it passes me, as though it’s demanding to be heard, demanding to be known. The dropping temperature makes my hands feel like ice, like they could shatter at any moment.
Coburn looks back at me, confusion in his face as I cover my forehead with my arm.
“What the hell?” I shout over the ever-stronger gusts of wind passing by.
He shrugs in response, mouthing ‘I don’t know’ before quickly turning his head as a loud bang echoes throughout the hallway, closely followed by another loud scream, causing my ears to ring for a few moments.
I inch my way closer to Coburn, grabbing his arm to steady myself and I catch a glimpse of Ana disappearing behind one of the doors in the hallway, though it’s one that I haven’t been in.
“Where’s she going?” I ask.
He sighs loudly, pressing his lips together.
A pit forms in my stomach.
“The roof?” I ask in disbelief.
There’s a way to get to the roof? How did I not know this? Why is Ana going up there? Is it just because it’s the fastest way for her to get outside? Is there something she’s trying to get in contact with? Or . . .
My mind goes to a dark place for a moment.
No, there’s no way.
I push the thought away.
Ehren and Luna come rushing over to the door Ana went through in the next moment, Luna fervently beckoning the two of us over before she shuts the door with a loud thud to follow Ehren and Ana.
I clutch Coburn’s arm tighter as we slowly walk in opposition to the wind so that I don’t fall backwards, though the cold is making it difficult. I feel like the chills are almost freezing my joints, making it harder to move with each step. My teeth chatter violently in an attempt to keep myself warm as we continue walking; my face begins to feel like it’s being attacked by pins and needles every time a gust swoops by, prickling, biting my skin.
Moments later, we reach the door and nearly fall through the doorway into a narrow stairwell. The wind has stopped, but the cold seems to have gotten worse. Much worse. It hangs in the air, like the morning after a winter’s night, suspended, chilling. My breath looks like soft white smoke, visible for a moment before disappearing into the air. The silence rings in my ears; deafening, shrill, vociferous. On top of that is the dark energy I felt in the building with Jaxson, finding it’s way into me, causing the pit in my stomach to tighten, my throat twisting itself into knots, the darkness making the room seem even colder. My teeth chatter loudly as Coburn turns around and looks at me with a concerned expression.
“Saf, hey, you okay?” He asks, grabbing my arms. He feels so much warmer than me, his hands feeling like a furnace, but the redness in his cheeks and fingers tells me he’s feeling the cold just as much as I am.
I give a few shaky nods in return.
“Yah. J-just c-cold,” I say, blowing into my hands in a futile attempt to warm them up, “D-do you feel the d-dark energy t-too?”
He nods with a grim expression.
“Yah,” he whispers, looking up, “is –”
Another loud bang from the roof causes us to jump in alarm.
We look at each other for a moment, and before either of us can say anything we both run up the stairs, like we could read each other’s minds, knowing where to go. I ignore the freezing pain in my limbs as I go, ignoring the pale colour of my fingertips, ignoring my chattering teeth.
Maybe my heat resistance is backfiring on me for some reason; it’s happened before, but it's never been this intense.
We get to the top of the stairs and open a large brown door to the rooftop, watching it swing open forcefully as it catches the wind.
The cold isn’t so bad out here, though perhaps that’s because it’s not condensed to one area like it is in the stairwell. But the wind looks as though it is as strong and present as ever, even more so than it was in the hallway. I force myself to grab onto a railing, and I’m glad I did, because I think I would’ve been knocked off the top of HQ if I hadn’t; at least, it feels that way. Coburn grabs my other hand tightly – which warms up my fingers a little – as we take in the scene playing out in front of us.
Ana stands near the corner of rooftop as Ehren and Ana try to talk to her, the wind intensifying with every passing second, throwing them off balance any time they try to get close to her.
“Why am I getting déjà vu?” Coburn remarks.
I frown at him, confused.
What’s familiar about this to him? Does Ana do this often?
I hope not.
“I don’t know. C-come on,” I stutter.
I let go of the railing and I fall into him, causing him to stumble backwards as we regain our balance.
“Sorry,” I mumble as I stand up straight, though I’m not sure if he heard me.
Luna and Ehren rush up to us.
“It’s no use. No one can get close to her,” Luna looks down.
“What’s g-going on with her?” I ask.
Luna looks to the side, thinking.
“I don’t know. But we don’t have time to figure it out right now,” Luna remarks as Ana turns around in the next moment, facing us. I notice the dark sheen to her eyes, the shadows in the crossbreeze, the dark energy . . .
My thoughts click together and I realize what’s happening.
“She’s possessed,” I whisper.
I remember thinking that, but I don’t realize I said it out loud until Luna snaps her head towards me, her hair whipping in front of her face.
“How do you know?” She demands, trying to make some sense of her hair.
I turn towards her.
“H-her eyes, they look t-the same way Jaxson’s d-did,” I breathe shakily.
Is that what Coburn meant when he was talking about déjà vu? That this reminds him of the Jaxson incident?
She narrows her eyes at me for a moment – like she’s trying to figure out if she believes me or not – before turning to Ana.
“S-so we need to figure o-out how to g-get her to s-stop attacking, r-right?” I ask.
Luna contorts her face.
“Ideally. But possession is strange. From what I remember, it affects everyone a little differently. So that strategy might have worked with Jaxson, but it might not work for her.”
“So, what do we do?” Ehren asks.
“Get her talking, see where her head is at. Best case, we get her in a place where she can’t attack. Worse case . . .” she trails off, “we’ll get there if it comes to it.”
“Worse case what?” Coburn pipes up.
“Don’t worry about it right now,” Luna mutters, though I notice that she looks nervous.
We all turn towards Ana, the dark sheen still in her eyes, her hair waving all over the place. She doesn’t seem to be having any trouble standing, though that’s just because of her Air abilities.
“Analia! Stop this!” Luna shouts.
Ana glares at her.
“Fine,” I notice her voice is distorted, like Jaxson’s was, “I’ll jump off the side of the building. That will cause all this to stop.”
Her voice hits me like a ton of bricks, her words echoing in my ears. There’s no way she’s not possessed. It was easy to tell that she was sad about Ryker, that she was distant towards everyone, but I never got the sense that she’d try to end it all this way.
I need to stop being right about bad instincts I get.
Luna inhales sharply.
“No! Ana . . .” Ehren cries as he trails off, clearly upset.
Ana narrows her eyes at him, “why shouldn’t I? Ryker is gone, maybe I’m better off that way too.”
“You know that’s not true,” Luna retorts.
I try to get a flame going in my hands, but the cold wind snuffs out anything beyond a small spark. I’m so cold that I’m not even sure I have any fire in me anyways.
Coburn puts his hand on my arm as I groan in frustration.
“It’s okay,” he reassures, though I can’t ignore how weak I feel anymore. I clutch his arm to avoid falling over.
I see Ana start to approach the edge of the rooftop, slowly.
“Please don’t Ana, please,” Ehren begs, running towards her before he’s thrown off balance and falls over a few feet away.
“None of you can stop me. The wind will stop if I jump, won’t it? Isn’t that what you all want? For all this to stop?” Ana shouts.
“Not like this!” Luna cries stepping forward, slowly, “just step away from the ledge, we’ll figure something out –”
Ana continues stepping backwards, getting dangerously close.
“No! Ryker is dead, and I’m better off that way too. And you all know it,” she says, glaring at all of us.
My legs give out from under me and I collapse to the ground, though I can’t tell if it’s from the shock of her comment or if it’s from the cold; I suspect a combination of both.
I know better than anyone how hard it is to lose people close to you, and I’ve tried to be as nice as I can to Ana, but it’s hard to not let her words fester negativity in my mind. I should have tried harder to be there for her. Maybe I should open up to her more about my parents when this is all over. Maybe then she wouldn’t feel so alone in all this.
But this has to be the possession talking. It has to be.
The real Ana knows Luna and the others would do anything to support her, as much as she tries to push them away.
Coburn lowers to the ground as I shiver, suddenly struggling to keep my eyes open. My breath echoes in my ears, my heartbeat pounding out of my chest, my limbs feeling like they’ve been frozen solid.
“Saf, hey, Saf!” Coburn shakes my shoulders and I gaze at him lazily, my strength depleting rapidly, my teeth chattering louder than ever.
“I didn’t realize you cared so much, Saffire,” Ana remarks with a smirk.
Her comment makes my blood boil.
Of course I care about her! I don’t want to see her jump off the roof just as much as anyone standing here.
I use the last bit of strength I have to try and get up, but Luna quickly joins me, placing her hands on my shoulders to prevent me from rising.
“Save your strength,” she whispers before turning to Coburn, “you’re the strongest out of all of us, you might be able to get close to her. Just keep her talking.”
Coburn nods and gets up, giving my hand a quick squeeze before going to approach Ana.
“I w-want to h-help,” I mumble, my voice weak.
“No, if you stay out here any longer you’ll freeze . . .” she trails off as she places two fingers just below my chattering jawline, “I can’t find your pulse, you need to get inside now, or I won’t be able to heal you when this is all over.”
“B-but –” I start.
She beckons Ehren over before looking at me with a grim expression.
“I’m sorry for this,” she mumbles as she places her fingertips on my forehead, concentrating her energy for a few moments before I feel the world fading away, the wind echoing in my ears getting more and more distant, my vision tunneling before all I see is darkness.
In no way am I trying to glamorize/romanticize suicide. This is a very difficult subject to write about, and my goal is to portray the subject as realistically as possible without crossing the line. I hope I did so successfully. Please keep in mind that Ana's response is exaggerated due to her present circumstances in the story. Possession is a dark and dangerous thing in this world, and her character is being compelled to these actions. With all this in mind, know that I'm trying to be as respectful as possible while portraying this topic.
If you or anyone you know is struggling please reach out to supports in your area. Stay safe <3