I stare at the ceiling, not sure what to think. Thoughts are running through my head in crazily quick succession, but every second thoughts centres on Emily’s face and how it fell when I implied I didn’t care for her as more than a friend. The image of disappointment in her eyes and the fall of her shoulders is an image I don’t think I’ll ever forget. But I don’t know what to do.
Thoughts about how she’s ignored me swing through my head, and that little rational piece of me that barely remains when I think about her speaks up. It says that the only reason she cares is because she thinks I’m the only one who does. It screams at me that she’s just using me – just trying to get attention from whomever she can.
The part that comes out when Emily’s near shoots down that thought and replaces it with the genuine hurt that was on her face. The part of my mind that’s neutral to all of it can’t decide what it prefers – thinking she doesn’t care, or having to see her hurt face over and over again.
I get out of the makeshift bed that Mr. and Mrs. Preston set up for me. They offered to give me their bed but I refused, my heart swelling at their generosity. I head towards the door to the room, fully intent on going to see Emly and apologise, but then I sit back on the bed and sigh.
What am I going to say – I’m sorry, I do feel something for you but I can’t tell you? I think to myself cynically. That sure won’t bring up questions. And it’s not like I can tell her about the magic – we’re forbidden! I get up and start pacing when there’s a knock on the door. I rush to it and open it eagerly, expecting her face, and frown in confusion when there’s no one behind the door.
A knock follows on the door down from me and I scowl, feeling the magic in the air. I groan and creep to the front door, letting myself out silently. When I reach the bottom of the walkway I don’t wait to see their forms before I speak.
“Mal, what the hell? Anyone could have heard your magic, what do you think you’re…” I trail off when I see four forms in the shadows in front of me. I frown and blink, but my vision doesn’t change. “Mal…?” I creep a little closer.
The fear leaves me and confusion settles in its place as I recognise Selena and Melayna. I blink again, taking in the grins of Melayna and Malachi, and the slightly smaller grins of Selena and Faegan. “What’s going on?”
“We’ve come to plan,” Melayna says, and I just blink at her – my mouth falling open at the fact that someone other than Malachi told me what to do before he could. Selena lets out a laugh, nudging Melayna in the side.
“Don’t feel too bad, Du. I’m sure Mal was telling her what to say so, in essence, it’s still Mal.”
My mouth drops open further at that and I stare more intently at Malachi. It’s then that I notice Melayna and Malachi’s connected hands and the slight scowl on Faegan’s face. I grin as I realise that I’m not alone. I stare at Faegan intently and he stares back at me, his grin widening slightly as he realises what I’m doing. We move slowly from side to side, mirroring each other. I smile internally as I see Selena and Melayna’s confused faces in my peripheral vision as I slowly make my way around Malachi in parallel to Faegan as if I am in a trance.
I hear vague whispers but tune them out, waiting for the signal from Faegan. When Faegan taps his toe intentionally we both slap Malachi on each shoulder, holding him down with our grips. I smile at our move – it might be small in comparison to him breaking all the rules we’ve ever known, but it’s still some form of payback – and give Malachi the look he’s given us a million times before; the ‘we need to talk’ look. Malachi, however, makes no move to free himself. Instead he just stands there, grinning at us like a fool.
A rush of power pulls the smile from my face and I turn around, seeing a furious Melayna surrounded by a halo of statically charger hair.
“Let. Him. Go.”
I’m too stunned by the enormous pull of power to react, instead just staring obtusely as Melayna’s eyes darken and she takes a step closer.
“Suit yourself.” She shrugs and I’m immediately pulled away from Malachi’s body.
I look up and catch Faegan’s eyes, enough to notice that he’s flying in the opposite direction from me. I’m barely able to prepare myself to hit the ground before I’m stopped mid-air, a few feet from the dirt below me. I peer down my horizontal body to see Malachi with his hand in the air, staring intently at Melayna.
“As much as these assholes,” he looks pointedly at Faegan and then me, “deserve to break a few bones, not like this and not right now.”
I frown at the words, understanding not yet flickering in my brown. I frown even more when I see the signs of strain beneath Malachi’s normally solid exterior, his knees trembling as if the wait of his body is too much.
“Please, let them go.” He whispers, and suddenly I drop to the floor – much less painfully than I imagine it would’ve been if Melayna had had her way.
Malachi suddenly drops to his knees and Lay starts towards him. I sit and watch as she pulls out of Selena’s grip and heads towards Malachi, stopping a few feet away from him. “Mal? Are you okay?”
He appears to be breathing heavily and I sit up, wincing at the sharp pain in my back. Still not that bad.
I watch slowly as Melayna smiles, still watching Malachi. I get up slowly and start to approach when Malachi suddenly flies through the air and stops mere millimetres before Melayna.
“You’re still not strong enough, you fake.” She smirks before pushing him back, and stepping with him as he moves backwards. “Oops,” she giggles, smiling before closing her eyes and letting her body relax.
“What the –“ I say softly to myself, and meet Faegan’s chagrined expression as he also picks himself off the ground and stares at them. Melayna steps back and grins at Malachi before turning to us, a frown returning to her face. Suddenly I am once more lifted off of my feet and planted somewhere I wasn’t before – this time on my feet and in front of Melayna.
“If you ever hurt him again…so help me…” She trails off and I gulp at the open threat, knowing that if she can do this with raw, untrained power then once she’s trained she’ll be virtually unstoppable. If she can be trained. Once she walks far enough away I turn to Faegan and mouth, ‘wow, what a catch’ before returning to join the conversaion with trepidation.
I take a deep breath and calm myself down, not exactly sure what just happened. All I know is that after Malachi’s friends freaked out, they had him pinned down. I could feel the pressure of their hands on my own shoulders and suddenly my vision was tinted red, the power rushing into my body in an uncontrollable wave that I welcomed with open arms.
I take a deep breath and shut off my connection to Malachi as I lean into Selena, unable to handle any emotion other than my own at the moment. That, and Selena is a familiar comfort – it’s like coming home to your mother’s embrace. Although I feel for Malachi – maybe even love him, not that I’d admit it – it’s not the same. It’s new and exciting – it gets my pulse racing and my thoughts going wild. Once you have an emotional breakdown all you want is your own bed and a warm drink, not the exhilarating experience you’ve just discovered.
Selena holds me up with practiced precision, letting me hold myself up on her while not letting it appear so. The amount of times I’ve done this for her during school inspection, or she’s done it for me when I’ve stayed up working all night to perfect a piece, are innumerable and she just accepts my weight without comment. I wait impatiently for the boys to join us, past even caring about them right now let alone caring about what they think of me. Once they approach I start talking, not even waiting for Malachi to give me instructions.
“Alright, so we need to train.”
Three mouths drop open. One smirks.
“Tomorrow, Du, you’ll have school.”
One mouth drops open. Two smirk.
“Mal and Fae, we’ll meet you at the park tat leads to the cliff. Not in the caves, not at the cliff but at the park. We’ll meet you there at nine am sharp, no discussion.”
Two mouths drop open.
“Mal and Fae, I’m sure our parents have set up somewhere for you to sleep at home, so you’re more than welcome to go there unless you want to walk around the city aimlessly. I don’t care, I just don’t want to see you guys before tomorrow, nine am.” I expect to feel a tinge of pain at the prospect of not seeing Malachi until tomorrow, but all I feel is bone deep exhaustion. I know the boys want to know why I’ve made all these decisions, but at this time I don’t have the effort or desire to explain.
Not to tell them that Emily doesn’t know and I can’t fathom having to tell her and explain. Not to tell them that I’m falling apart on my own right now and can barely stand. Not to tell them that Selena is more a part of me than I am some days and that’s the only reason she’s by my side. I just…can’t.
“We’ll see you guys tomorrow,” I turn around and lean on Selena as we head for home. She doesn’t say anything as we walk for a good twenty minutes. I can tell that Malachi’s not following us and I’m thankful, leaving the connection between us shut though. The silence is comforting as we creep into the house and slide into her bed together, existing together in silence.
“Lay?” Selena’s voice comes to me softly just as I’m starting to drift off.
“Mmm?” I say sleepily.
“What are we training for?”
My eyes pop open and I’m not sure what to say. In some ways I don’t really know, but in another way I know more than I want to. The fact that there are people out there who want to harm me is enough of a reason to train, but I don’t want to bring out my melodramatic sister and so I shove that thought far down.
“I don’t know, Lena. I really don’t know.”
That’s all I can think about as I stare at the girls’ retreating forms, Melayna showing no signs of weakness even though I know it must be killing her to have used that much energy. My mind flicks back to Dudon’s comment about her being a good catch and, even though he said it sarcastically, I can’t help but think it’s true.
“Wow, that’s one heck of a girl,” I say out loud as I watch Malachi’s eyes trace Melayna’s form. I’m currently holding myself back from watching Selena the same way, instead choosing to focus on Malachi and use the hypocritical part of my nature that’s ready to rear it’s ugly head.
“So, what did you want to talk about?” Malachi’s question is sudden as he spins on his heel and fixes his glare on Dudon. If he wasn’t so weak there would’ve been a blast of energy accompanying that, but since he appeared to struggle so much to hold us up against Melayna’s power I can’t imagine him being able to exert much power now without causing damage to himself.
“W-what?” Dudon stutters, wide-eyed as he stares at Malachi. I inwardly snort, thinking about how he should be fearing Melayna more than he should be fearing Malachi. Suddenly a blast leaves Malachi and Dudon drops to his feet, Malachi stumbling as his head droops and he holds his weight up shakily. I put a hand around Malachi’s waist, holding him up. He leans on me, his whole weight sinking into mine, and our shadows merge on the ground beneath us.
“The only reason I’m here right now and not following my Soulima is because you needed to talk to me. So start talking before I lose my shit,” Malachi growls under his head. The venom beneath his words is evidence and I cringe at his swearing, having never heard him so emotional before. Dudon just stare at him, grabbing his side before shaking off his emotions.
“I just…didn’t know you were…I mean…I thought that…” Dudon trails off, unable to say what I’ve already thought. Suddenly a picture appears in my head; Dudon and I, having despised Malachi for touching Melayna, no longer talking to him. We’re cut off from who was once our best friend, and I can’t even imagine it. Suddenly warmth fills my chest and I pull Malachi up a little more, providing him all the support I can.
“Well, you thought wrong,” Malachi says before turning around, letting me carry his weight as we walk down the road. Once we get to Selena’s house I stop and let out a sigh, imagining the hopefully sleeping girls.
“Are we going to go in yet?” I say quietly, looking up at the silent house. Malachi shakes his head once and we continue waling down the street, our shadows merging into one and creating a united front against the world.