Two hands, holding each other. Holding so tight that the veins pop out on the skin of both of them. One hand has tiny, bony fingers, manicured nails; it’s a woman’s hand. The other one’s skin is a lot more rough, a little scarred, but the one that’s giving you a feeling of safety. A man’s hand.
But the thing that confuses me the most, is a heartbeat. It beats in erratic rhythm, loudly; but as I listen more carefully to it, I realise there’s only one heart beating.
Everything around is white, like those hands were floating in space. It’s not heaven, or hell, it’s just… emptiness. And just then I realise, the tiny and bony fingers are mine.
I lift my eyes up to see Kai, holding me, already looking at me. A look that was nothing but all love, the right hint of softness and care, a crease at the corners of his eyes. In moments like this, I always forget that he’s actually an assassin. All that cruelty and anger is gone when he looks at me; and all the surroundings disappear, just like this time.
But he stands still, and for a moment, I think if he was actually real. A sudden gust of wind starts playing with his hair, lifting it up in the air and then gently putting the longer bangs back onto his head. He says nothing, and his body is frozen on the spot.
My voice is echoing in the space when the wind shows no sign of quitting, only getting stronger with every moment, blowing with a powerful passion. It should feel like the freshness over my skin, it usually does; but this time, it feels like it’s threatening us, breaking us apart, at the same time, making a fine flag of my tousled hair. And the only sound, the lonely heart, is starting to beat faster with every moment.
I hold onto his hand tighter as he still keeps looking at me, not moving, under his clothes, moving by the wind, I can’t spot if his chest is moving; if he’s breathing. I know I am far away from any inner peace, my fear, confusion surges so fast I feel like I’m going to vomit, I can taste saliva thickening in my throat and beads of sweat trickling down my brow.
Until another voice makes my eyes leave Kai’s immobile face.
“You have to let go.”
As I turn my head to the right, I see Avery, as if she was floating in the air. As if an invisible wall was protecting her from the wind that seems to take this place down, blowing stronger with every moment; and so is the heart, beating faster, louder in my ears.
Her face is serious, her usual warmth and softness is gone from those eyes that used to comfort me. Her golden hair, laying on her left shoulder; truth to be told, she looks more like an angel than a real person in her blinding white dress.
“Avery, what’s going on?”
“You have to let go.”
As the words leave my mouth I realise that I’m shouting, not talking, as the beating heart seems to be right next to my ear, taking away my hearing, and so is the wind, now almost making me lose my balance.
“If you want him to live, you have to let go.”
“I don’t understand…”
I look back at Kai, and nothing in his look is changed. Just his body, slowly breaking into million pieces. Starting from the fingertips of his right hand, and slowly climbing up. Destroying him.
“I know it’s hard, but you have to let go. That’s the only way he will remain alive.”
I feel the tears, stuck in my throat as I watch him slowly disappearing in the wind, pieces of his body are taken somewhere where no one can find. I know it’s only a dream, but it hurts no less, seeing him looking at me with the most living look I ever saw, and at the same time, slowly dying.
But listening to Avery’s confident voice, realising that she knows what she’s saying, like in any other dream I had with her; my hand slowly slips out of Kai’s palm. I watch what will happen next. The heart starts to beat slower. The wind starts to become the warm breeze. And the missing pieces of Kai’s bady comes back, filling his body. His face finally starts to move, and his lips that were immobile only a moment ago, suddenly part.
And as soon as his deep voice reaches my ears…
I wake up faster than a cat in icy water, every sense urging me to claw my way to standing, still confused about that dream. Before I open my eyes to take the rays of sunlight breaking through the cracks of trees, I focus on the sound of breathing that isn't my own. It's heaving, and rapid as if it was a person that just stopped running. I listen, still, trembling, until my mind is capable of getting all the memories together.
Snake’s venom. The cut. Aaron, sucking it out of my body. Blacking out. And just as I carefully open my eyes, I see his brown pupils locked on me, both of his eyes widened, and somehow, making him look silly.
“Oh, God, finally!”
Surprisingly, Aaron wraps his arms around my neck and pulls me into a tight hug. And I start wondering if that dream was a fight between dying, and living. The space that was all white. And having to let go of Kai.
I realise I’m laying on some blanket that is placed on the grass, and people, sitting around me like I was a campfire. Waiting for me to start burning, or in reality, to wake up.
I take a glance at my right shoulder, seeing the wound is hidden under a white bandage, that’s already stained with blood. Just then my eyes catch the same golden hair that I saw in my dream, and those big eyes, now, full of concern.
My voice seems to be more angry than I intended it to be, and she leans a little back, now the concern in her eyes is replaced with confusion. As if she doesn’t understand why I’m talking to her, at all.
“How are you feeling, Bev?”
“What did that mean to let go of him?”
She glances upward, her mouth pursed, but slightly open and loose. Her eyes are suddenly fixed above my head as if she's examining something in those trees behind my head. And even I start questioning myself, what the hell am I talking about.
“Um, Bev… what do you mean?”
“The dream. Haven’t you dreamt about the same thing as I did?”
“Beverly, I wasn’t asleep.”
I can’t will my lips to move. As if stuck underwater, everything is slow and warbled as she tilts her head to the side, like puppies do. My mind is blank and my eyes wide as I stared at her in confusion. Her eyes, desperately searching in mine, searching for answers, waiting.
But the truth is, I’m the one that needs answers.
“What are you talking about?”
“When I… blacked out, I had a dream. With Kai. And you. And you told me to let go of him… saying, that it’s the only way he will survive.”
“Bev… I wasn’t asleep. I didn’t have that kind of dream…”
“Maybe you saw a vision? Anything?”
As my eyes skim into hers, as she draws her look away, as she was searching for an answer; my heart sinks into my shoes. I sit motionless, unaware of the time that passed until Avery turned back to me, just staring at her but seeing nothing. No thoughts came to me, except that confusion that keeps growing inside me.
“No… nothing. I’m sorry. I haven’t seen any visions lately, it seems like my mind is working differently right now.”
“It’s the connection.”
A silent, but warm Maileen’s voice makes my breathing stop for a moment. I turn to her, sitting just a little further away from Avery, the strands of her light hair moving by the wind. There’s softness in her eyes, as she looks at both of me and Avery; and also, confidence. Like she was so certain about her words.
“I don’t know how, but you are connected, you proved that when we found the script. I know a lot about clairvoyance, and I probably know something about that dream.”
“What do you think it means?”
“It means that your connection allows Avery to share her visions with you, she does that involuntarily, but when the vision can’t reach her mind, it reaches yours. It’s like a bridge was built between both of your minds, allowing her clairvoyance to reach you, as well, even if you don’t have that kind of ability.”
“That just means…”
“That’s weird, I know, but this is a thing that relatives, mostly, twins have. I know you can’t be twins, because of your age difference, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re somehow, from the same bloodline.”
We couldn’t be twins, Maileen is right. But that just means that Kai was right about everything.
I know my eyelids can’t register another blink when my mind tries to put every thought into its place. This was nothing but true. The moment I was dreading for, to find out I was actually adopted; to not know who my real family is. It’s not the fact that I’m related to Avery, it’s… oh, my poor little sister Brooklyn. If I can still call her my sister.
Suddenly, I hear a rustling of the leafs and grass behind the trees, footsteps, and from what I hear, I know there’s more than one person. We all lock our eyes on the gap between the trees; Aaron, already pulling his gun out.
Until I see the same, familiar inked face I was dying to see again.
Kai starts running to me again, and with the corner of my eye, I also watch Brent. Carrying Caden in his arms, bleeding, with duct tape over his mouth, on his arms and legs. But as soon as he sees Avery, he throws the man away and pulls her into his embrace.
When Kai finally reaches me and wraps his arms around me, I know his hug is stronger than anything I've ever known, as if holding me wasn't enough for him, and he has to feel every ounce that I am, pressed into every ounce that is him. Rubbing his arms to my back, over and over again, as if he still wasn’t really sure that I am here. That I am alive.
“Oh, God, Beverly…”
“I’m okay, Kai. Aaron saved me.”
I wink to Aaron that’s standing behind me, holding Lexi’s hand as they both send longing gazes each other’s way. Kai pulls back a little, turning around to face Aaron, and I see how his face enlightens with the same smile that is so rare, hut appears on moments when he’s genuinely happy.
“Thank you, Aaron. You did the biggest job in here, and you should be proud of your abilities.”
“Don’t worry, I am.”
Aaron winks at Kai with the cocky look on his face, and at the same time, looking adorable. Both of us chuckle when Kai draws his eyes back at me, and the laughter evaporates. Leaving only the warm tickling inside my stomach, and love in my eyes. His fingertips touch the icy skin of my cheek as I examine his face; a bruise above his brow, a wound under his nose of and blood that stained his lips.
“Do you know how worried I was?”
“I know. But I am here. And I’m not leaving you that easily.”
I let my arms hang softly around his neck, resting on his shoulders. In this closeness, we are still in our hearts and the chaos of the world is disappears; as if it was a bird settled in its nest. His scent intoxicates; the gentle smile on his lips is my salvation. Kai leans in a little closer, our foreheads touching.
“Did I ever told you that I love you?”
“No… I don’t remember that.”
“Then know, that I do. And I will always love you.”
The moment our lips touched, the world vanished instantly. My eyes fall closed, and all I can feel is him. His warmth, his touch, his being. Even if life is agony, the way we live it, there will always be one thing that will reassure, encourage, and comfort me. Kai.
“I’m sorry… but we should go. Caden has more men, and I believe they will be here anytime soon.”
Kai slowly pulls away and stands up, taking my hand in his and helping me to stand up on my feet, as well. Like there was a silent invitation; others take a break from what they were doing - hugging, talking - and turn at Kai, prepared to listen what their leader has to say.
“We need to leave and find some abandoned house, so I could do what needs to be done to that piece of shit.”
Suddenly, my mind gets back to the conversation with Maileen and Avery that we had just a moment ago. And the script, that said that the Phoenix doesn’t exist. But, however, it never said that the treasure doesn’t exist.
“I have an idea.”
“What is it?”
“What if we made it more… dramatic?”
Kai arches his eyebrow as I feel the others staring at me like I was out of my mind. No one says anything, but I see how they’re starting to look around, like they were searching for an answer that can only be found inside my head.
“We should try to search for the treasure. Maybe… Avery could find it?”
“What? Oh, you mean…”
I give Kai a frown, trying to be as silent and as specific about it; since we haven’t told others about the rest of what the script said. And I know we should, especially, to tell Brooklyn that we might not be even related; but I know I’m not doing this in front of the others. At least, my sister deserves to find that out from me, in a personal talk.
“Right. Avery? Would you try to find the place for us, please?”
“But… I’m not sure. Caden asked me to do it so many times, and I saw nothing.”
“Use the bridge, Avery. It hadn’t worked, because you were alone. Now, you’re not.”
For a moment, she just looks at me. Examines my face, my eyes; as if she was searching for some invisible push that she needs, to stop hesitating. To finally trust in her powers. All this time, she was used because of it, and I bet she feels it’s a curse, not a gift; but somehow, I feel like I’m the only person that now can prove her wrong.
“I promise you nothing. But I will try.”
I nod as she hesitantly takes a step towards me, and I release myself from the warmth of Kai. She’s looking at me, like there was no one else around us, as if her focus only on my eyes would help her reach whatever she wants to. But the most important thing… I believe in her.
Somehow, I believe in every word that Maileen told us. Deep inside my head, I start to believe that we’re closer than we ever thought we were. A thought of Avery, that could even be my sister, flashes in my mind, but I immediately shake it off. There’s no need to rush things, not before we find out what actually happened when I was born.
As we stop just inches away from each other, for a moment, we both freeze. Probably, waiting for Avery to prepare. For both of us to prepare for success, or a failure. But after a moment of holding her breath, she lifts her arms forward and I couldn’t notice how quickly both of our hands are holding.
“Close your eyes, okay?”
I nod, taking a deep breath as my eyelids close and the sight falls into the complete darkness. I know everyone is watching us, as silent as they can be, trying not to ruin this already stressful moment.
Just then, it gets completely weird.
“Hold on a second. I think I can see something.”
And honestly… I can see it too.
“No, no, don’t talk.”
“Avery, I can see it.”
I feel how her fingers tighten around my hands but she says nothing, both of us trying to focus on the thing we’re trying to find. It’s like I opened my eyes again; but I still can feel my lashes tickling under my eyes. The view is a little blurry, but I can see the surroundings more clearly with every moment. The wilderness, only a few pieces of vegetation somewhere deep in the desert. Mountains. And no life to be found in there.
The view gets more clear with every moment when spot an old, abandoned building, that is almost melted into the ground, one of its walls is missing. From its old architecture, I can already tell it’s a church.
“Do you see it?”
The view falls into a complete darkness before I can see the light again, and I catch my breath when my brains can’t work fast enough for me to realise what the hell is going on.
In my surprise, I can smell something. Something that couldn’t be found between the trees, where we’re actually standing. A smell of mold, a place that hasn’t seen a living thing in years. Then the view opens up, and it’s like I was looking straight at the sun. That’s how lots of gold is shining.
I whisper the words to myself as I keep seeing it somewhere deep inside my mind, in some basement, probably, under that old church. Coins, vases, sculptures, bowls - all made out of a shiny yellow gold. I can’t believe what I’m seeing, but I feel how my jaw drops in shock. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it’s real.
And just like that, the view gets back into the darkness.
I slowly open my eyes, seeing the same trees that I was standing between before. Still feeling Avery’s hands in mine. And the look in her eyes, the look that I never saw before. Hope, probably, even happiness. It’s glimmering in the sunlight, as if the rays were coming from her eyes, not from the sun above us. It gives me nothing but a pleasant tickling inside my stomach; when I feel, that I might’ve done what I intended to.
From the look in her eyes, I could tell that Avery is not ashamed of her powers anymore. She’s proud.
“You really saw that?”
“Yes, I saw everything. I can’t believe that happened.”
Suddenly, a smile starts to play on her lips, before it stretches up to both sides, showing every single pearly white tooth of hers. Her eyes start to glisten even more, and all I can feel is happiness. Just because I made a person feel better in his own body.
“Now all we need to do is to find that wilderness, and the church.”
“So you’re really taking Caden to the place which he was searching for all those years?”
Her smile, the shine in her eyes falls for a moment when the dark thoughts of her biggest enemy, getting to the place which he was searching for, and making her suffer only because of it for all those years, blinds her. And that’s exactly what I want to do. To show him the place which he was trying to find, and destroy him without even giving a chance to touch it.
“Yes, Avery. He’s going to see the devil surrounded by all that gold.”