I’d been visiting back and forth between Juno and Eden.
Jess had called to check up and said he’d be fine to give Eden the truck if I stayed with her and kept her out of trouble. He and Vinnie were hunting down south now.
Eden was starting to question where I disappeared to when I went to visit Juno. I understood that he wanted to get a grip on reality again before he brought Eden back into his life but I didn’t want to hide his secret from Eden for too long. What if she followed me one day and saw him? She would feel more betrayed and ask how long I knew, if I’d known for the last two years and she was the only one suffering the loss of him.
Juno had taken up vaping to keep his mind away from demon blood. His clean streak turned from seven months, to eight and then nine. Soon the fall leaves made me feel like I was living in a foggy, haunted house with Juno’s vape smoke.
“When are we going to tell her?” I asked one day.
We were sitting huddled up together on the couch. Juno turned his head, his hair swinging and touching my face.
“Is she still in that motel?” he asked.
“No, she moved after Darren Shadowend removed the haunted mirror, she didn’t feel safe there and she made sure her next room had limited mirror space,” I reply.
“Would she come here with you if you asked her to come?” he asked.
“You want me to bring her here?” I asked. “I thought you’d want to go to her.”
“If she still trusts me, I was going to let you two stay here with me,” he replies.
“You’re her brother, she didn’t tell me what happened for weeks. She loves you, just give her a chance,” I continue.
“Yeah,” he replies quietly.
His hand touched my face, I blushed and reached up to kiss him. He accepted it and smiled.
My phone buzzed. I pulled away to look at it. It was Eden. He saw and I got up to answer.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Where do you keep going? You say you’re not hunting but you’re always gone. What are you doing?” she demanded.
I glanced at Juno.
“Okay, so I went on a few hunts, I didn’t know you needed to come on every one of them,” I reply lying.
“Liam, if we hunt together we have fewer chances of losing each other. You and Jess were always complaining I was doing things on my own and endangering my life. But that doesn’t change when you do it, either. I already lost my parents and Juno. I don’t want to lose you, too,” she continues.
“I’m sorry,” I apologize even though she’d left me to go hunt with Jess, what was I supposed to do back then? Sit around and wallow in my worry for her safety? Hunting had distracted me.
“When are you coming back?” she asks.
“I can come back now if you want,” I reply glancing at Juno.
“Okay, I’ll be there soon,” I finish. “Bye.”
“Is she okay?” Juno asks.
“She was worried about me hunting on my own,” I reply.
“I’ll come back tomorrow night, okay? Well, she’s sleeping,” I reply gathering my things.
“Okay, goodbye, Lee,” he bid.
“Goodbye, Juno,” I reply.
I stepped outside and shut the front door. A cold gust of wind blew by, the first signs of autumn. I walked down to my car and glanced back once before getting in. I saw Juno watching from the kitchen window.
I drove to Eden’s motel and found her waiting outside. She put an arm around my back, half-hugging me.
“Did you miss me that much?” I asked sarcastically.
“You’re all I have left, if I lose you I have nobody,” she confesses.
“Just know that I have my own life and I can’t be around all the time,” I try to reason.
“Can you at least tell me when and where you’re going instead of just going AWOL?” she replies.
“Okay,” I reply.
We go inside and watch some TV and fall asleep.
When I woke up Juno had texted me. Slipping.
What did that mean? It was two hours ago and he hadn’t texted again, if it were urgent he would have sent multiple messages, wouldn’t he have? What if he was in trouble?
I got up and grabbed my coat. Eden was still sleeping, I left her a note apologizing and saying I’d be back.
It was raining outside; the sky was cloudy and dark. I drove through the downpour to Juno’s place. When I knocked there wasn’t an answer.
I looked in the kitchen window and couldn’t see anything. Knowing Juno, nothing would have been left unlocked. I took out my lock-pick and picked the lock on the front door.
By now I was drenched from the rain. The TV was on inside but Juno was nowhere in sight. The floor from the back door up the first-floor stairs was wet.
I followed the puddles up the stairs to a room, I pushed the door open and saw Juno sitting on the bed. He was drenched, holding a needle of blood to the crook of his arm.
I dashed forward and grabbed the needle, trying to avoid hurting him.
“Juno, what are you doing?” I questioned.
I saw his eyes, they were twitchy. His hands shook. He wasn’t steady anymore, he was losing it.
“Juno, if you do this, what you did to Eden will have been pointless. You’re going to hurt her again,” I reason.
He stood up shaking and took a step. I took a step back away from him.
I threw the needle against the wall, it broke, spilling the demon blood on the floor. There’d be a stain but I was protecting Juno from himself. I thought he was getting better. Had he just been getting worse in the last two months? Had I distracted him more? Had he slipped because of me?
“Juno,” I warned cautiously.
He fell to his knees finally, crying.
“It hurts,” he mumbled.
“I used to be numb when I took the blood, I just wanted the pain to end,” he cried.
I knelt down and hugged him.
“I’m here, I can’t make the pain go away but I can help you cope,” I whisper.
He rested his head into my shoulder.
I helped him back up and into the bed. I sat beside him stroking his hair as he calmed and drifted off to sleep. Once he was asleep, I cleaned up the glass from the broken needle, the puddles and checked the house to make sure it was free of any more demon blood. I locked the doors and went back upstairs. I laid down beside Juno and listen to the rise and fall of his breath as he slept. I didn’t intend to but I fell asleep next to him.
I woke to my phone’s vibration hours later. Eden was worried and sending me angry text messages about leaving and not answering.
I couldn’t leave Juno now, what if he slipped again? I couldn’t tell Eden where I was either. What was I supposed to do?
Somebody called and they needed me, I’ll be back in about a week, okay? Be careful, please, I texted.
She continued to text me about leaving without telling or even waking her. I set my phone on the ground beside the bed and pressed my back to Juno’s. His breathing movements assured me that he was okay and that if he was okay, he could recover.