Chapter Twenty Five
I faded into the blackness, welcoming my death.
Abruptly, my eyes snapped open, just in time to see Theon’s face leaving mine, before I started hacking up the water that burned my throat on its way up. “Serena?” He shouted, grabbing me by the shoulders and pulling me up to him, hugging me tightly and rocking back and forth. “God, Serena, I thought you were dead.” He said with a shaky voice.
“So did I.” I whispered against his chest, my words coming out in a croak. I breathed in his mix of saltwater and cologne with a new ferocity, still idly wondering if I’m dead and in a heaven where I get to be with the people I love. His touch was too real though, and the pain in my chest too strong for this to not be actually happening. I really had thought I was dying, there was no way I got to the surface on my own. I turned my wet head to look up at him. “How did you save me?” I asked him hoarsely.
He rubbed my wet back, holding me closer. “I didn’t.” He told me, looking out towards the water. “The…girls did.”
He nodded, his perfect eyes catching the sun light while he watched the water still. “The girls that Alana has transformed.” He looked out at the water. “All the old sirens.” He mumbled, and I took in a breath. I’d only actually met Armela, and I had always thought she didn’t like me very much. “I was sitting up here, for a long time actually, and now I’m probably going to lose my…It doesn’t matter. Anyway, I was just sitting here and I saw all this commotion in the water. Fish jumping, and flapping around all crazy, so I waded out a little and that’s when I saw you. They were supporting you in the water, pushing you to the surface. But still they were struggling, and I thought for sure you were dead.”
I stared up at him in disbelief. I was having a hard enough time wrapping my head around the idea that I was even alive, much less that I had been saved by all of Alana’s creatures. As I was thinking, I instinctively brought my hand up to my throat, expecting to feel the cool stone of my amulet, but it wasn’t there. “I’m…free?” I whispered to myself.
“What happened?” Theon asked, smiling with me.
“She brought me to the new girls, but I told them not to take the deal.” I explained to him and he raised his brows. “I kept distracting Alana and the girls died before they could make any deals with her, and then I told Alana that I would do the same thing with any girls she brought, that I’d turn them all against her until she let me go. And then…she did.”
Theon’s brows were furrowed, and he was looking away from me. “They’re dead?” He asked. I nodded my head, feeling a little guilty about that, but I know that they’d be wishing for their death that would have never come otherwise.
A thought played in my mind. I couldn’t help think of the fact that Theon and Alana were both gone at the same time, and seemed to both come back at the same time. “Theon?” I asked and he turned to look back at me. “Is that going to cause a problem for you?”
“That the girls are dead?”
He sighed. “Yeah.”
I nodded my head, trying not to think too far into it. “I’m sorry.”
Theon’s face changed quickly, almost like he was angry and I flinched away from him, but he recovered quickly. “Don’t apologize for that.” He said firmly. “If it means you’re free, who gives a damn?” Theon began to stand, then he pulled me up to my feet, letting me lean a lot of my weight on him. I felt so weak as we began walking towards the trees. I turned my head, looking back at the water over Theon’s shoulder. “Don’t ever look back, Serena.” He told me and I snapped my eyes forward.
“Is this really happening?”
“I’m happy for you, Serena.”
I didn’t remember the walk usually being so long, but we finally made it to Theon’s house. He shifted my weight so that he could open the door for me, and then we walked inside. I had to keep reminding myself that I didn’t have a time limit before I needed to be back in the water anymore. “I’m freezing.” I shivered.
Theon closed the door behind us and smiled at me. I’m sure I look like a freakish wet rat too, and I can feel my soaking wet dress sticking to me all over, and my hair is wrapped around my head. Theon stood in front of me, running his hands through his damp hair. “Do you want a shower or something?” He asked.
I hadn’t even thought about that. “Oh my god, a shower sounds like just about the best thing right now.” I sighed, already dreaming of the hot water cleaning all the saltiness from my skin. “Oh, and something to eat.” I added, holding my stomach as it grumbled.
Theon chuckled at me. “Alright,” He grinned. “You shower, and I will be fixing you something to eat.” He told me. He grabbed my hand and led me down the hall to the little tile walled bathroom. The close space made us both a little uncomfortable and he shifted his weight back and forth on the balls of his bare feet.
I looked around the little bathroom, nothing on the counter but a single red hair brush and a toothbrush holder with two toothbrushes, one small and pink and one big and blue. “Um, I might need like a towel and some clothes.” I mumbled and Theon quickly nodded his head and ducked out of the room.
I could hear a closet door open and shut in the hall, and then he was shuffling around in his room before he finally came back. He slung the thick brown towel over the shower rod, then he passed me the folded up sweatshirt and pair of old grey sweat pants. “They’re going to be way too big for you, but that’s all I’ve got.” He told me shyly.
I just took them from him with a smile, not wanting to give away how excited I was by the idea of wearing his clothes. Any clothes really, but especially his. “Thank you.” I told him quietly and he was careful to not look me in the eyes.
He turned, pulling back the shower curtain and turning on the water for me. “I’ll go get lunch going.” He said, then he pulled the door to behind him.
The sound of the shower water made me more nostalgic than I would have expected after only four months, but I couldn’t hold back my excitement as I stripped out of my stupid wet dress and climbed under the hot spray. “Oh my god.” I whispered happily to myself as I scrubbed my body with my hands, getting all of the sea water gunk off of me. I only had two options of shampoo and body wash. One little kid’s no tears shampoo that smelled like oranges, or Theon’s two in one shampoo and conditioner that made me cringe. I opted for Tally’s on that one, but when it came to the body wash, I lathered myself up happily in Theon’s scent.
I stayed in there until the water began to turn cold on me.
I climbed out, pulling the towel around my body and nuzzling into the softness. I had so many thoughts running through my head at once. I couldn’t believe this had really happened to me. Any of it. I had died, almost twice, but brought back to life, became a freaking siren for a sea witch, and now I’m free. Free to go home and be me again. At the same time as being happy about that, I was sad too. I wasn’t ready. I thought I’d have all of this time to be getting prepared to go, but here I am, in Theon’s bathroom, knowing I’ve been out of the water well over and hour, and I’m alive. “Free.” I whispered into the towel.
After a minute, the smell of something fabulous crept under the door, making my mouth water. I quickly dressed in Theon’s clothes, smiling as I rolled up the sleeves and the top of the pants to make them fit me, then I ran the hairbrush through my hair, silently wishing I could just do this for another hour, but then my stomach reminded me that I was starving.
I checked myself in the mirror. I looked like me again, not the fabulously made up Barbie doll version of me, but just me. No makeup, and damp blonde hair dripping at my shoulders.
I opened the door and headed into the kitchen, following the lead of my nose. “Something smells fantastic.” I said as I walked in. Theon was standing in front of the stove, and he glanced my way, but then did a double take.
“Wow.” He muttered, then his face turned a little red as he turned back to the food. “I, uh, I made you some fish and fries.” He said as he plated my food.
I took it with me into the living room and I plopped down on the couch, bringing my legs up under me and started stuffing my face. The food was superhot, but I didn’t let the sting on my tongue stop me. I scarfed it down in a minute flat and went back for seconds.
Once I finished my second plate I glanced over to Theon, hiding my embarrassment at his amazed expression. “Sorry, I was starving.” I yawned.
“I like a girl who can eat.” He shrugged, taking my empty plate to the kitchen before coming back to sit on the couch beside me. “You seem sleepy.” He said when I yawned again.
“Yeah, I guess I am.” I told him. “It’s weird though.”
“What?” He asked, laying his arm out on the back of the couch.
I shrugged, mindlessly watching the news on the little TV. Another storm was going to be moving in for the next few days. “Thinking about going to sleep.” I mumbled. “It is kind of scary, actually.” I admitted. “Like I feel like I might have been dreaming this whole time, and when I close my eyes to go to sleep now, I will wake up back home and nothing will have changed, and all of this wouldn’t have been real.”
We both turned to look at each other at the same time, the close proximity of our faces making my heart beat a little harder. “Wouldn’t that be a good thing?” He whispered breathily. “If it had all been a dream.”
I shook my head. “No,” I told him. “That would mean I never…”
Theon furrowed his brows when I let my sentence drop. “Never what, Serena?”
I ducked my eyes for a moment, not sure if I should really say what I was thinking, but then I gazed back up at him. “I wouldn’t have ever met you.” I whispered.
He leaned in fast, his hand on the back of my neck, and he pressed his lips to my forehead, then rested his head against mine, looking into my eyes. “Serena,” He whispered my name and I tried to lean closer to him but he pulled away. “You can’t.” He said softly. “You’re going home.” He reminded me.
I crossed my arms over my chest. “Not right now I’m not.”
“Tomorrow.” He replied, but I shook my head and pointed at the TV.
“Nope, not for a few days at the least.” I snapped.
Theon leaned over, putting his head into his hands and sighed loudly. “That doesn’t change anything, Serena.” He told me. “You’re still going to be leaving here.” He mumbled into his hands. “I can’t get any more attached to you than I already am.”
I scooted over closer to him, putting my hand on his back. “I understand that, but don’t you think we could make things work?” I asked.
He rolled his eyes. “Make what work? Me and your boyfriend?”
I glared at him. “That’s obviously not what I meant, I was only saying we-.”
He sat up and looked at me strangely. “No.” He shook his head. “There will never be anyway that you and I could…” He shrugged, then turned back to look at me. “Don’t think I don’t want to, because that’s not true. I do, and that just sucks even more.” He said.
He stood up, breathing heavily. “But nothing, Serena.” He snapped. “Why would you want to have anything to do with me anyway?” He asked. “I can’t give you anything.” He held his fist to his chest. “Look around!” He told me, holding his arms out. “This is all I have, and I’ve just barely got this.”
I stood up and closed the space between us. “If you think I honestly care about any of that then you must not think very highly of me at all.” I snapped at him. “I don’t care about what you do or don’t have, I care about who you are, but I guess you still just think of me as a stuck up spoiled girl.” I said then turned away from him, walking quickly to his room.
Once I was in there I wasn’t entirely sure what I had come here for. Usually after an argument you stomp off to your room, but I don’t have one. So now I’m just standing embarrassed and annoyed in his bedroom for no damn reason.
“Serena.” I heard him say softly and I turned to face the doorway where he was standing. “I’m sorry.” He whispered. “Can we please not fight, I just…I wish things were different, but they aren’t. And as much as you’re in denial about it, you are going to be leaving soon, and I know you.” He said. “If something happened here between the two of us, when you get home to your boyfriend you’re just going to feel guilty, and I don’t want any part of that.” His eyes were intense on mine. “You carry too much guilt as it is, don’t let me add to it.”
I wanted to deny the truth in that, but just thinking about going home to Asher, I already feel guilty, just for the feelings I have for Theon, and I haven’t even acted on them. “Fine.” I whispered. “I don’t want to fight either.”
He nodded his head and smiled lightly at me as I stretched my arms over my head in another yawn. “You should get some sleep.” He said. “Tally will be home in a few hours, and you know she isn’t going to let you rest.”
I smiled thinking of her and getting to play with her as long as I want tonight. “Yeah, you’re probably right.” I said as I went over to the bed and sat down. Theon smiled at me again, then went to turn to leave. “Wait.” I called out, my voice up an octave, and he turned back.
“What’s wrong?” He furrowed his brows.
I pursed my lips and looked down at the bed. “Will you…stay?” I asked. “I just really don’t want to be alone anymore.”
He hesitated in the doorway, but after a second he walked over to me, the sight of Theon walking towards me while I’m sitting on his bed made my stomach fly into a frenzy but I tried to keep my cool as I scooted over on the bed, giving him room. He cleared his throat as he got into the bed, laying on his back and looking up at the slow turning ceiling fan.
I laid on my side beside him, looking over at his face. It didn’t take long for my eyes to get so heavy I could hardly bare it, and right before I knew I wouldn’t be able to move anymore, I scooted closer to him, laying my head on his chest and loving the feel of his arm wrapping around me. We laid quietly, and I let the steady pound of his fast beating heart lull me into a dreamless sleep.