“Here. ” Elijah said, handing me a pack of cold, frozen peas without hesitation I took it pressing in it quickly onto the nape of my neck, the pain sizzled out and I finally let out the breath I was involuntarily holding. “I’m guessing you need it.” He chuckled the deep sound vibrating in the spacey room. Veronica was undoubtedly right, that was three most gruesome hours of my being. But I learnt a few things, how to hold the Blocking Position and how to execute a few oncoming attacks. Isaiah, though strict taught exceptionally well that I couldn’t fault him on that.
“Alexis,” He spoke, I felt myself looking up at him, it must have been something in his voice that grabbed my attention but I couldn’t figure out what, ” You did good today.” His green eyes concentrated on mine, suppressing down the lump in my throat, smiling, I answered back.
His bold eyebrows scrunched together, like he wasn’t sure why he said what he said. Nevertheless he nodded, muttering a quick, “Yeah.” With that he walked away to what I’m presuming was his room.
And just like that I was alone, some of them were in their rooms or still training. But I found myself here, isolated in the living room. I couldn’t bring myself to even move, all the energy was draining right from my bones. How could they do that, be brought up in this lifestyle; missions, deaths everything negative surrounded them but not once did I see them falter or have a mental breakdown or anything. They really were well-oiled machines.
Footsteps, heavy and sure footsteps rang through the room. Isaiah. His presence, his aura everything just assured me it was him. I was right; his glistening white hair caught the sunlight seeping through the windows, his blue eyes piercing, his shirt was off his rigid abs slick with sweat, his arms bulged veins peeking through. He started making his way towards me, closer and closer. I couldn’t help it, I felt like I was drawn in like he was a magnet, my magnet, slowly but surely I could feel myself inching off the stone grey couch.
Then much to my dismay, at the last minute, he gave me a small smile then turned to the right making his way up the glass stairs.
He couldn’t have possibly done that on purpose, could he? Then what? Did he not like me?
Hurt, embarrassment, anger were all the loud and raucous emotions swirling inside me. Unfortunately I wasn’t all to sure which one to pick.
Seven days. Seven days had passed. Two trying to figure out what to do with me, what would be the best options. One all settling on requesting for an escort team deciding that would be the safest way. And one day trying to at least piece together how those marks came to be, I could suss out Veronica thought it was self-inflicted and the way she would look at me at times like I was an absolute nut job, but they all accepted that it was outside of their understanding that Nations would have to solve the problem when I’d arrive, mean-while I had to keep replacing and redressing my wound to prevent infection, they also took it upon themselves to demand a new location to reside in since their unit wouldn’t be safe here. I couldn’t argue with that. The remaining days, just filled with training, Zee’s incredible dinners and sleeping. In all of these life altering decisions, I wasn’t included in at least one. It was like I was there; listening, seeing their different array of facial expressions, sometimes tensed and sometimes relaxed, I was there I knew I was but everything felt just so out of focus. Did I even have a say In my own life anymore was all that was circling in my head at that time.
But now, now I had to wait for the escort team to arrive, I would subsequently leave with Isaiah and travel all the way up South of France. That was where one of the major HQ was situated in, the closest one in London I was told mysteriously burned to the ground. Thankfully, no casualties. It was strange however considering how a fire of that magnitude wouldn’t be broadcasted on the news. I guess that’s how these stations worked, they always seem to glaze over the important information. Like they pick and choose want we watch, listen to, what we know. In more way that one we are all being controlled.
Waiting. The waiting was excruciating. It gave my mind too much time to think and that’s one thing I despised more than anything, was having time to think. All these different scenarios of what I would be told to do when I got there, in order to save the world, none absolutely none of them turned out good. They all had the same destination. Me dying.
Right now all of us sat around the leather black lounge table, Zee practically forced all of us to play a game of cards. Jordon playing for Zee as she was currently cooking, every one of us repeatedly offered to aid her, but Zee being Zee refused saying that we’d all ruin her work ethic and eventually her food. We finally dropped it.
But Jordon was clearly exceptionally good at cards, the array of them halved as quickly as he got them.
Holding the smooth, clean cards I looked down assessing what I had; three of club, two of hearts, queen of diamonds. I may not clearly know how to play this game, but I knew I wasn’t going to even come close to winning.
But honestly it genuinely didn’t matter, this here was perfect. Just perfect. Everyone smiling, looking the most relaxed I’ve ever seen them in days.
In spite of everything I was happy I guess, this feeling, this exact feeling I never wanted to let go of. I haven’t had it in a long time, a very long time.
“Hey!” Veronica exclaimed scowling at Elijah, “You cheated! You know you can’t put that down St. Claire.” Grabbing his card that was on the top of the pile she throw it back at him, he feigned hurt. It must have made her laugh because I could make out an outline of a faint smile tugging at her lips, ” You miss a go Elijah. ” I guess they were all hardwired to be this competitive.
Isaiah eyes locked with mine, he smirked, like he knew my cards were all a total sham. How could he have possibly known? Holding my gaze he tapped to a small stack of cards that was still untouched that you could pick from. Was he suggesting that I pick another card, which could evidently risk putting me even further from winning.
Looking back up at him, I furrowed my eyebrows but subsequently found my hand reaching for the stack of cards and pulling one out, in selecting the card much to my surprise it was the Queen of Hearts, which meant I might not lose miserably at all now. Meeting his eyes once again, I mouthed a small thank you which he returned with a grin.
Before I could even react. Jordon slick, calm voice spoke, “There, that’s how it’s done.” He placed down a king and won the game without looking not even slightly bothered. “Good game.” He continued and audible sounds of protests and groans came from Elijah and Veronica.
“Every time.” She huffed.
Rubbing his hands against his black cargo pants, abruptly he got up making his way to the kitchen which I knew was were he wanted to be. If Zee was there so was he.
Deciding that I to was too exhausted for another game I got up making my way towards the kitchen. This time I’d force Zee to accept my help and I’d leave no room for her to even utter the word no. Noticing Isaiah following behind me, I couldn’t help but smile this past couple of days were trying to say the least but he’s been there the best he could, the best that I’d let him anyway.
Sweet, pleasurable aroma of food wafted as I got closer. With all the extra, excessive training I had to endure, I was constantly hungry and Zee’s food was the only thing that made me feel like I had more than enough.
The glass table held different varieties each and every night, this time I was graced with; big, shallow bowl filled to the brim of cooked plantain, pasta mixed with vegetables, a fat roast chicken situated in the middle, multiple salmon bombarded with different spices. No need to say, but it all looked undeniably delectable. It always baffled me how she got all this done in the set amount of time without any help.
She wasn’t even finished, she was steadily holding a fruit bowl overtopping with different types of fruit, I could tell the weight didn’t faze her at all but Jordon quickly took it off her before she could even retaliate, rewarding her with a fast kiss on the lips for which she just laughed.
She smiled up at him, “Thank you-”
“No, thank you for always taking care of us - of me.” Placing the fruit bowl down he returned back to her, wrapping his arms around her waist and making their foreheads connect. “Zee,” He took a deep breath out.” I don’t know what I would do without you.” I could see her looking up at him through her thick eyelashes.
Gently she touched his face, “You’re never going to lose me. Never.” The exchanging of all these raw emotions was slightly overwhelming and I began to think that I was being especially intrusive. Quickly I looked away only to be greeted with Isaiah interrogating stare as fast I humanly could I looked away again, Zee and Jordon broke their hold of each other. Which now I was certainly grateful because with the way Isaiah was looking at me, I couldn’t bear to face him.
Zee voice bellowed through, “Dinner’s ready. ” But still it sounded so exceptionally calm, how did she do that so efficiently, so effortlessly.
Veronica and Elijah hastily made their way to the kitchen, taking their designated seats, once again I was left to sit next to Elijah. This time I was thankful.
“Sitting next to me again Reign,” He patted to the vacant seat next to me. This time his smile held no condescension, for once it seemed actually genuine and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little breath-taking, it lighted up his whole face making his eyes sort of sparkle, his dimples became more prominent. It really was beautiful.
Reign. My surname felt right, so unbelievably right. My dad was still a part of me. My journey, his journey.
Taking my seat, Elijah politely laid out a plate for me and this time to my surprise it came with no quick irritating remark.
Everyone began digging into to the food, mindless chatter filled the room, I couldn’t help but detach myself from the conversion, there was too many thoughts of my own I needed to sort out.
“Are you okay?” Looking up from my meal straight into Elijah eyes they visibly held concern. He was waiting for a response and I was so scrambled that nothing quickly came to me, all I could manage was a feeble nod.
It didn’t convince him not in the slightest, he etched closer until I was practically touching his bear skin, everything in me screamed to just leave and go, knowing that this wasn’t normally something I was used to.
“Alexis, are you okay?” That thing in his voice once again resurfaced, not knowing what it was and desperately wanting to I found myself studying his whole face, concentrating on his eyes, yet he gave nothing away, like he knew what I was trying to do and would give anything and everything for me not to find it.
Realising how invasive I was being I pulled back, mustering a smile. “Thank you, honestly I’m fine.”
He scoffed, his normal cocky persona taking over, “Yeah I’ll believe it when I see it.” He took a deep bite out of a plantain making sure he fully digested it and resumed, ” Look I know how daunting it is, but listen everything is going to work out fine. You’re the key to saving this world remember? That’s some pretty big boots for anyone else to fill. ”
Was he serious? I was preferably going to die, so I guess the only normal thing to do is be happy that no one else can ever amount up to me and my sacrifice.
Not a single word of that made me feel even the slightest bit happy or assured.
I turned forcing myself to look away. Everything just came crashing down at once and to be honest I wasn’t completely sure I could take it anymore. My eyes glazed as I was struggling to hold in the tears that threatened to fall down my face. ^^
I swear I could visibly see his worry, considering how strong and suffocating it was in his voice it was easy picturing it, ” Hey. Did I say something wrong?”
Just with that one statement all the individual talking stopped, everyone began focusing on us, on me and Elijah. I couldn’t help feel like I was a spectacle, something somewhat amusing to watch, let’s see how long she’ll take before she breaks.
Veronica voice ripped through the silence, “My God Elijah, what have you done now?”
His voice soft, which was surprising especially for the rest of them, “That’s what I’d like to know.” I could feel his hand gently take my forearm turning to turn me round, so I’d be facing him. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I said something out of turn I wouldn’t deliberately make you cry.”
I couldn’t feel it before but I certainly felt it now, even taste them now, the saltiness, the stinging, the blurriness.
Why? Why was I even crying? The embarrassment wasn’t all that un-bearing it was more the fact that I had completely and absolutely no clue why my body was reacting the way it was. Why I wasn’t in any control of my emotions.
A hand perched on mine, the warmness and familiarity and the chocolate scent to follow it. Meeting my gaze with Zee’s it held understanding and remorse. Maybe she understood why I was so out of tune with myself. Because I certainly didn’t.
A scoff followed with a small, “Pathetic.” Painfully my eyes reached Veronica brash ones and I couldn’t help but agree. “Seriously?” Her head whipped towards Isaiah in bewilderment and slight annoyance, “This is the person that you would risk your life for, ” She made it a point directly it at me, I wasn’t anywhere close to her but I felt like hoards of icicles were stabbing me all at once. “This is who the Nations wants to save the world, to save our world. ” This time she stood up, throwing her arms up in the air. “For goodness sake, she can’t even get her emotions in order. How is she supposed to save us if she can’t understand herself. This whole thing, ” Gesturing to me her eyes blazed. “This entire mission is hopeless. We’re doomed, all of us.”
No one said anything, presumably still shocked from her sudden outburst but I couldn’t help think that maybe just maybe they believed her too.
“Seriously Veronica,” Isaiah his tone came out sharp. His eyes focused on her filled to the brim with rage. “If you’re not going to eat peacefully then leave.” I could tell he was trying his utmost best to keep a level and cool head. That didn’t help. Why was he defending me if she was just speaking her point of view, if she was just telling the truth?
Her posture, everything matched the rage within her to that of Isaiah. But his was more fierce, more hard, more ire. “Isaiah are you okay, like seriously okay! You cannot be supporting her - it didn’t even occur to you that maybe just maybe she inflicted those marks onto herself, ” She signal towards my injured arm that was steadily healing it didn’t surprise me that she thought that it was self inflicted, I just never believed that she’d go out of the way to actually say it, hearing it now slightly winded me granting everyone a very audible gasp, all eyes fell on me again including hers, “Think about it that perimeter check was clear, nothing triggered off our alarm and no one, absolutely no one could survive a first floor drop.” Veronica eyed me like I was nothing, nothing to any one and especially nothing to her. “You’ve let a psycho into your lives and don’t crawl back to me when you realised how wrong your judgement of her was-”
“Veronica that’s enough!” Zee’s voice boomed through the room silencing even Veronica. Her chocolate eyes turned a shade darker. I’ve never seen her like this, I’ve never seen her so, well so angry. I instantly hated myself for turning her this way, this was my fault, all my fault. I should never have ran away, I should never have gone into the woods, that way me and Isaiah would never have met and our destiny could be rewritten. ” You know better than to attack someone when they clearly aren’t in the right space to defend themselves. Don’t lose the morals that was instilled in us.” This time her voice held all the authority, I could tell no one expected this from her, not even Jordon. “Veronica. Sit. Down. Or. Leave.” Each word, each pause emphasised, neither girls were backing down, Zee held her ground equally as Veronica did, “Okay. Then leave. Now.” It was clear by the tone of her voice her command held no room for argument.
Her eyes flickered onto each individual face, prompting someone to agree with her. But no one, no one showed her any signs of support. I was tempted to leave with her almost everything that she was saying I actually, whole heartedly believed. With knowing when she’s been defeated, she smiled condescendingly, holding her head up an inch higher, I could tell it hurt trying to do what was right, the best decision for your friends, putting their best interest first but then them turning around leaving you empty, leaving you vulnerable. It had to hurt. But she overcame it rather quickly, more quickly than I would have imagined. “Well, I’ll be taking my departure tomorrow, there’s a unit not too far that I can collaborate with-”
“Make sure you don’t come back.” Zee’s voice returned back to its soft nature but still held enough venom to maker her flinch. No one protested.
This wasn’t right. “No, Zee, she’s right I’m not prepared for any of this. You’ve all known each other a lot longer than you’ve known me, I-”
Veronica snapped, livid that I would even consider helping her, “I’ll tell you when I need you input Reign!” Shrinking back, I could feel everything swirl out of focus, this wasn’t me. I could defend myself. I know I could. But all I could feel was me being glued to my seat practically catatonic.
Having taken in my reaction she rolled her eyes, muttering quietly but clearly loud enough for everyone to hear, “Saviour my ass.” Throwing her napkin down on the plate of her meal, she proceeded to storm her way out, but she didn’t even make it to the stairs.
Three long beeps echoed throughout the entire floor. I knew that. I remember Isaiah warning ne about it once. Those sounds. Someone’s in. Someone’s broken in. Before I could make my way towards Isaiah.
A bang erupted, I could feel the force pick me off my feet, dragging me like I was a rag doll, flinging me to the other side of the room.
Ringing that incessant ringing, screamed out at me and kept screaming, the floor vibrated violently. Debris showering me. Screaming, someone was screaming. That sound, oh God that sound.
I came to realised it was coming out of my own lips. That strange, foreign metallic taste engulfed my mouth, the hot liquid pouring down my mouth leaving a bloody mess on the floor.
I coughed. And coughed again. Until I wasn’t in control of them anymore. The pain, the pain shot through every fibre of my being immobilizing me. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t scream. Nothing. I could feel my body spasm intensifying every aspect of the pain, prolonging the initial impact.
Shots, long array of shots belted pass. Instinctively my hands flew to shield my ears.
What was happening?
Muffled shouting echoed through from multiple people, everything merged into one that it was increasing hard to differentiate between people, I wasn’t entirely sure from who, which side. How did they even get guns? Who were they? Who were these people?
My head span uncontrollably, “Guns, where are those guns from?” I found myself muttering, not fully aware what I was saying, or why I was saying it. I tried pushing myself out of the cocoon of the debris, pain radiated through, my arms gave in.
Right then and there, random shots bombarded towards my head towards the glass windows, merely denting them. Bulletproof. Of course.
Lucky, that was a quick escape. I could have died. Like literally died. The only thing that seemed to run through my throbbing head was Evan, Isaiah, how I didn’t protect the people I cared for. How I couldn’t save them. How I failed.
“Ale-” The blaring voice muffled and interrupting by a series of gunshots and bodies audibly dropping to the ground. “Alexis?” The voice came out more urgent, more hasted. “Alexis!”
Isaiah. All I could manage was a groan, I hoped that was loud enough to at least announce where I was.
Come find me.
“Alexis!” Relief was evident in his tone, yet it was so quickly replaced with worry. My body was cemented to the floor, my face pinned down. My head felt so heavy, so burdensome I couldn’t support my weight. I couldn’t lift it. An agonizing ache crossed through my temple and more hot liquid dropped down my face. “Shit, shit, shit.” The debris I was trapped under became lighter and lighter till nothing was restricting my movement, sturdy arms lifted me up via my waist.
Where did they get the guns from? “Is-aiah. Where,” I paused trying to place my words correctly, “Where did they get the guns from?” He faced me confused. “Gu- The guns. Where are they - Where are they from?”
Roughly, he cupped my cheeks, pulling my skin on each side of my face slightly down peering into both eyes, muttering, “Shit.” Under his breath. “Concussed.” He muttered again, so quietly I almost couldn’t make it out.
“What? Speak loud- speak louder. I- I can’t hear you.”
“You don’t need to!” He shouted over the noise, dragging me throughout the wreckage towards from what I could make out to be the training room. That big ruby red door stuck out like a sore thumb.
Suddenly we stopped, face to face with a man dressed in black from head to toe with protective gear and a gun, a big bold glossy black gun. Aligned perfectly to my forehead. He was blurry, in fact everything was vastly unclear but it was clear enough to look down the barrel of a gun.
Before he could pull the trigger another shot fired through, I knew it didn’t come from him. Another shot. And another. Until our assailants body collapsed onto the floor, lifeless. My eyes drifted towards Isaiah his hand skilfully clasping the gun. Like firing was second nature to him.
He grasped my hand again, “Come on.” He held the gun out, cautiously walking through the corridor, ready for any oncoming attacks.
Though the pain that hit me like a ton on bricks, I remembered something, something so important. The others. We left the others behind. Tugging at his hand forcing him to an abrupt stop, I spoke, my voice sounded raspy, tired. It was so foreign, that for a minute I didn’t even recognise it belonged to me. “Stop. Others. The others.”
He looked conflicted looking pass my shoulder the commotion still loud enough. I could tell a mini war was pulsating inside his head. I knew he wanted to protect his friends, but he also wanted to protect me. Shakily he breathed out, moving his head side to side, “No, I’m sorry, but you’re my number one priority. I can’t-”
“I’m not going. ” My head was furiously turning, momentarily everything seemed to fade until they blacked out, with little warning I crashed into him for stability, arms wrapped around me instantly, propping me up prompting me to regain my balance.
“Alexis, I’m getting you out of here. I’ll come back for them. I-”
Repeating all that I could manage. “I’m not going.”
“We don’t have time for this.” He hissed.
A blood curling scream so loud that it rang through the entire space. Zee. It was Zee.
Fighting me way out of Isaiah’s embrace, I stumbled to Zee. Help. She needed help. Making my way to the end of the corridor with Isaiah protests following behind me.
What befall me was a scene, such a terrible haunting scene I knew I could never bring myself to forgot. Dozen of people dressed in black, the opposing side, their bodies littered on the floor, blood seeping into the carpet droning a small pool of overflowing blood. The normal, pristine, organised lounge was torn upside down, bits of concrete, glass all sorts of debris hailed down. Veronica. Veronica was slumped in the wall, holding the left side of her body, shrapnel sticking out at random places. She was the closest. Three embedded in her face, twisting at different angles mangling her smooth skin. And Zee. My gosh, Zee. She laid crouched, two guns tossed to her side, in her lap Jordon, blood oozing from his chest, he too lay lifeless, all colour drained from his cheeks. She cradled him, touching his face, rocking back and forth, visible tears streaming from her once happy eyes.
“Come back to me.” Despite her whispering, it was still so loud it rang in my ears.
My heart ached, limping my way over there I suddenly stopped.
A freezing, ice cold gun barrel was placed directly to the side of my temple. No.
My eyes searched for Zee begging for her help. My tries came out feeble and useless. She couldn’t hear me.
One. He clicked the gun.
Two. He pushed me down onto my knees.
“Alexis. Look out!”
Two gunshots stormed through.