The silence became so uncomfortable.
The fact that there was silence - and that it was so uncomfortable - tugged at a place in my heart, because silence was comfortable between people who were close, and if there wasn't silence, it was because they had so much to talk about. But it hurt, because I had to try so hard to say something to him, and being with him was like being with a stranger I loved, or at least remembered loving, if that even made sense.
He glanced over at Demetri, and then at me, where his gaze settled.
"Mr. Talon, do you think you could give us a moment?"
"Of course, sir". He sounded reluctant to say the last word, and he almost spat it as if it were poison, but it was obvious in his eyes that he was attempting to be polite, and Levi Chase, my father, seemed to appreciate it. Demetri glanced back at me meaningly, as if he had something to say, before disappearing with a low thud of the door.
There was silence in the room for several moments.
I stared absently at my sneakers, while Levi rummaged through his mind for something to say.
"I suppose you're wondering-"
"A lot of things". I surprised myself at the bitterness in my tone. "Why didn't you tell me? Did you think I would rather find out this way? Whenever I asked you to attend one of my stage performances or music classes or parent day in 2nd grade, your excuse was always you had to work to provide for us. I suppose I should be grateful I eventually found out you just preferred to keep your precious secrets than to watch me grow up".
"Don't call me that. I'm sixteen now and I don't even remember you ever telling me you loved me. So play fair and explain to me, why have I been kidnapped, dragged down here, ended up in a hospital-type room for a night and-"
"Three nights, actually".
I felt anger rise in my chest; my heart pounded against my ribs, my fingers curling into fists. Three nights? I'd been here for three nights? I didn't even want to answer. I was tired of arguing and shouting … tired of the fact I had thrown myself into this world because my best friend had been taken from me … tired of trying to be a hero.
"You have no idea how insane my life has been recently", I paused, my eyes fixed on his. "I've lost my best friend, my mother, my baby brother is in some sort of "special babysitting house" and now you-"
"Anastasia. Please. Just go to the kitchen, get yourself something to eat, and meet me at my office. I can explain everything to you if you'll just let me". He was talking slowly and clearly, which would have normally annoyed me, but I was so exhausted and confused that I found it beneficial.
He looked at me as if I had just stabbed a spear through his heart; as if that one word had just torn him to shreds.
Tears began to well up in my eyes, but I didn't let them escape down my cheeks. When I spoke again, my voice was shaky, and quiet, and hurt, displaying exactly how I felt. Talking to him didn't just hurt emotionally; it hurt physically, too, like an aching pain thundering in places I hadn't even known were inside me. "When I wanted to spend time with you, you were never there. Now I'm returning the favour".
* * *
You can get through this.
I slipped out through the door, holding my breath and biting down #### ## ## ###### lip to keep from bursting into tears. The last thing I needed now was to start crying hysterically. I walked through the halls of the building, unable to understand what was tearing at me from inside. I felt like I was dying from the inside out. All my emotions, all my thoughts, every pain, both physical and emotional, I had always bottled up. But now this had bumped the bottle, and everything was beginning to spill out. I threw the main door open without even thinking, and continued walking in an attempt to get as far away from everything as I possibly could.
I'm sick of being alone.
Give me someone who understands, so I don't have to be alone anymore.
Give me someone who won't hurt me; who will pull me up when I fall instead of pushing me down.
I approached the end of a cliff, feeling like the time had passed so much slower than I wanted it to. Every place in my body was now aching, and there was a rising pain of anxiety in the back of my throat. As soon as I possibly could, I stopped at the edge of the cliff.
It seemed not all of Astria was the same, because this was beautiful.
Flowing rivers and waterfalls, green foliage and healthy wildlife. The area was surrounded by a series of large mountains and rolling hills, and the sky was bright, lit up with the sun.
I screamed as loudly and hard as I could, letting the tears stream down my face as I banged on the end of that bottle, in an attempt to get everything out so I could fill it up again later.
I wasn't the type of girl that usually screamed.
But this would've made a world record.
* * *
My feet slipped against a pile of moss, sliding beneath my shoes. I fell, which immediately cut off my screaming.
Two hands clasped around my arms, grabbing me before I slipped down to a seemingly endless fall. It made me realise it was almost as if Astria were a floating land in the sky, even though I knew that to be false, especially since there were other parts of Astria that made me think perhaps we were below ground.
"What the hell? Are you trying to #### ######## or are you just extremely clumsy?"
At first I thought 'Sebastien', but then I realised the nature of the words and the voice didn't match his.
I crawled further up the edge of the rock, moving away from the cliff's side to assure I wouldn't fall a second time, and make an even bigger fool of myself.
I brushed the dirt off my arms as I pulled my knees up to my chest, where they were now grazed and bruised, in addition to the minor yet painful wound across my shoulder - something I had gained thanks to that Tracker. "A mix of both", I replied, silently avoiding eye contact with Demetri. I listened absently as a low sigh escaped his lips, and he seated himself next to me, his arms casually draped over his knees. I could feel his gaze on me, which made me slightly uncomfortable, and slightly appreciative, since the attention he gave me wasn't like the attention of the boys at my school; he didn't seem to be like anyone, but rather like an individual, which was how I felt things should be.
"Be glad you screamed bloody murder then. It was the only thing that saved your life".
I almost smiled.
For a couple of reasons, of course, but mostly because of the fact he had pulled me up when I fell, after everyone, and everything else had pushed me down.
* * *
"Somehow I think that wouldn't have had much of an effect to everything", I paused, allowing my eyes to fix on his. The flecks of topaz in his hazel eyes almost glowed in this light, kind of like miniature shards of gold. I had noted from the first time I saw him that his entire complexion and features were much softer than Genevieve and Leon's, but no less brighter. "You were spying on me? Stalking me?" It wasn't much of a question, but more of a 90% positive suggestion, if that made sense.
He blew out a puff of air from his mouth, glancing away before returning his gaze to my face. The faint smirk on his face disappeared, as if he had only just realised I was serious, or that I was actually talking. "Well it sounds dodgy when you say it like that, but if you're going to twist the words on my tongue-" he stopped for a minute, and the smirk reappeared - more of a smile this time. "Then yes".
Silence passed between us for the next few minutes, until I thought of something else to talk about.
"What are you?"
He turned to look at me again as if I was speaking nonsense, raising an eyebrow.
"What I mean is … I'm human. What about you?"
"I'm Mortal, Anastasia".
I blinked, unsure of what to say to that.
"Aha! I knew there was a but". I smiled faintly, before stifling a laugh as I glanced back at the words I had just spoken.
He laughed too, revealing his pearl white teeth, and grinning in a way that was very different from his smirk. When he grinned like this, it was like a wide, genuine smile, and he looked like a normal, happy guy. But when he smirked, it was kind of crooked, like a cross between a smirk and a grin, and there was something very mysterious about him. I concluded that I preferred his genuine smile more than any other expression.
"But, Mortal doesn't always mean ordinary. I can still do things that pureblood humans can't".
"Yeah … if both parents of the child are completely human, the child will be human. It's all to do with the genes. Mortals were originally a single race; they didn't have magical powers or abilities. But then other species mated with them … Vampires, Werewolves, Dhampirs …" He stopped, seeming to enjoy the look of confusion and interest pasted across my expression. "For example, if a Vampire and a human mate, they will have a child. That child is called a Dhampir, because they will be half human, and half a Vampire. But, if a Dhampir and a Mortal bred together, they would most likely have a human child, but one with different abilities and powers. Basically, the child would be one part Dhampir, and three parts human".
I nodded once, feeding on the information like an intellectual vacuum, which pretty much summed up another chapter of my personality.
* * *
"So what can you … do?" I cringed as I brushed my fingers over my shoulder, where my injury was stinging and burning. I could already imagine the blood bubbling beneath my skin, or at least that was how it felt.
He must have noticed, because he turned to face me completely, and pulled my hand away from my shoulder, carefully placing his own there. I wanted to ask, What are you doing? But I was a little shocked, and couldn't really ask anything. "This", he said lowly, the blood seeping between his fingers. The palm of his hand began to glow, radiating a light that would have been blinding if it weren't for the fact his hand was in the way. The effect lasted for a couple of seconds, but faded as he pulled his hand away again, his eyes still fixed on mine. I hesitated, before pulling down my shirt slightly at the shoulder. There was nothing but bare skin, except a thin pink scar.
I glanced back up at Demetri.
His skin was warmer as the sunset rose behind him; the sky was painted with beautiful tones of pinks, oranges, blues, purples and a number of other hidden colours most people failed to mention when describing a sunset. "You can heal people?"
I found myself speechless again, unsure of what other explanation there was. I didn't stay speechless for long, because Demetri spoke soon enough.
"I can manipulate age. I can make someone younger or older through touch. It's a gradual process, but it's powerful, which is why it took so many years for me to learn to control it".
"Before I learnt how to use it, if I touched someone, and I somehow lost control of my emotions, before I knew it, there were wrinkles and all-sorts forming on their skin".
"That sounds kind of horrible".
"Didn't your parents ever help you?"
He laughed once, but not with amusement. It was more of a nervous laughter, or some type of low scoff.
"Well, my mum might've - if I hadn't killed her".
* * *
about 1 hour