Daybreak Ch. 14bypurefire©
Roman, who had found a way back into the room waited for his queue patiently. He'd hoped that the flash of light would have appeared before Zaide had a chance to finish his show, but when Nadia's last breath came and his chest seized in mourning, he stopped hoping. The long and tense moment of silence did nothing to soothe his thoughts. And then he'd been forcefully lifted off his feet. Roman only had seconds to clear his head before he pushed himself up, just in time to see the bright flash of light that illuminated the room for a brief moment. He immediately took three steps forward and waited.
The distinct whiz of an arrow had him clenching his fists in anticipation. The arrow hit its mark; Zaide let out a furious roar. He threw out a fireball and used his powers to relight the candles and it was then that Roman noticed Draco and multiple Slades fighting Zaide's followers. He was proud to see that they looked bored as they killed the demons, which only meant that they knew that they had a chance of winning. As his brothers fought, he went to Jameson and Andraemalek. Neither one of his brothers bothered to move and he wasn't sure if it was because of Zaide's powers. "Can you move?"
Jameson, who'd finally managed to look at something other than the floor, stared up at his brother. It only took him a moment to realize that he'd moved his head to look at Roman. "Yeah," he said as he gained his feet. He sought out Charisma, determined to get her away from Zaide before he killed the bastard. "Check on D."
"He's busy ripping heads off," Roman replied.
Jameson took a moment to look over and found Andraemalek in the middle of a fight with five Mordecai. His brother wasted no time ripping the demons apart as his rage at them had turned him into a madman. "Watch his back," Jameson told Roman. He had other things to take care of. He didn't see Charisma, but Zaide remained in his sights. The demon leader looked dazed and slightly pained, which gave Jameson the advantage he needed. He rushed forward and dodged flying body parts as he attacked Zaide. Three solid blows to the demon's face and chest forced them both toward the corner of the room.
Zaide laughed as he countered Jameson's moves. He had to ignore the deafening voices in his head that abruptly returned in order to concentrate on the fight; the effort wasn't easy as the voices interfered with his abilities. The louder they screamed, the harder it was for him to concentrate on his abilities. He managed to kick Jameson back and used his opening to freeze his opponent in place. Zaide used his opportunity to clear his head enough to win the battle. As long as he did not listen to the voices, he had control of himself. He manifested a large fireball and stared at his creation as he said, "I'm going to enjoy watching you burn." Just as he was going to throw the fireball, it disappeared from his hand. Pain rushed over him, and he felt as if he was gripped in an impossibly tight vice. The pain was debilitating enough to keep him frozen in place. It was also enough for his magical hold on Jameson to break.
Charisma placed a hand on her stomach as she hurried to Jameson. She'd done a very stupid thing. By the furious look in Jameson's eyes, she would hear just how stupid that was later. She didn't wait for him to question her; she simply placed her hand on his neck and allowed his power to flow into his body. Once Jameson's powers were returned, she found herself being shoved toward the corner where he could see her. Charisma wanted to help and knew that if she simply got her hands on something heavy, she would be able to kill some of the demons the brothers battled. There were so many of them; it seemed that no matter how many clones Slade created, there were still outnumbered six to one. Andraemalek seemed to relish the fight; ripping the heads off the demons seemed to be his only battle tactic. Draco and Roman worked together to fight, often throwing each other at the demons to gain momentum. Where were Liam and Alexis? Charisma was sure that the redhead would relish a battle of this magnitude. Alexis would also fight and his presence would help even the odds.
"I am going to enjoy punishing you for that," Zaide declared. He hadn't expected her to find a way behind him to steal Jameson's powers. Though it had only taken him a minute to regain his senses, the loss of the ability enraged him beyond sanity.
"You won't be alive long enough," Jameson said. He rushed forward and used momentum to push off the ground. While in mid-air, he spun and prepared to kick but cursed when he found himself frozen once more.
"Where is your head, Flame Boy?" Zaide moved forward slowly, allowing himself to look into Jameson's eyes. "Just because I can't burn you alive, does not mean I've lost all of my other abilities." He used his powers to close off the air passages in Jameson's body and smiled cruelly as he gasped for breath. He wanted the man to suffer; suffocation seemed a good enough method for him to die.
Charisma watched in horror as Zaide slowly choked the life out of Jameson. The sick gleam in the demon's eyes made her glance to the table where Nadia's lifeless body lay. Rage coursed through her and prompted her to grab the first thing she saw; a three-sided etching tool used for carving. Without thinking, she ran forward and plunged the tool into the center of Zaide's back.
In a roar of fury, Zaide turned to attack. His eyes widened at seeing Charisma behind him before they narrowed in displeasure. He did not want to kill the woman; he still needed her abilities once he eliminated his enemies. Reminding her of her place, however was important, especially if he expected no other trouble from her. Zaide raised his arm high to strike and swung hard to hit Charisma and could only frown in confusion when his hand bounced off thin air. A second later, he felt his body begin to freeze in place.
Charisma watched in wonder as Alexis and Liam guided the captives into the room. Together a mall number of the scared men and women chanted, concentrating their focus on Zaide. They ignored his screams and protests as they chanted louder. Soon, a small vortex materialized around him and as his body began to dematerialize, Charisma took a step back. Zaide was being sucked into the vortex and for the first time since she met him, he was powerless; there was nothing he could do to control the situation. Within moments, he'd disappeared and all that was left of him was the tool she'd lodged in his back. Charisma figured that the men and women who chanted had to be witches of some sort as she knew for a fact that neither the brothers nor Dion had the power to make that happen. She didn't know how they all knew what to say and didn't bother to care; Zaide was gone.
At the sight of the destruction of their leader, the remainder of the Mordecai army swiftly fled. The brothers nodded to one another, acknowledging their victory. A loud bark in the background had the newly freed captives leaving the room as well. It almost seemed as if the battle never occurred.
Charisma let the shock of the night consume her; tremors of fear and pain coursed through her, forcing her to her knees. The strength seeped out of her body and she found herself saying a silent prayer of thanks that she'd survived. She also said a prayer for Jameson's life. Again, guilt washed over her; she had no right to be thankful for her or Jameson's life, especially when it meant that they had to acknowledge the lifeless body left on display at the front of the room.
It took the identical look of shock on Alexis' and Liam's faces for Jameson to look at Nadia's body. She didn't even look dead; she faced everyone in the room seemingly staring at them because she never closed her eyes. If it wasn't for the surgical blade still embedded in her chest, one would have thought that the Daemis was simply frozen in place.
"What the fuck happened?" Liam asked incredulously.
No one answered the question. They all silently watched as Andraemalek walked to Nadia's body. He leaned down to place a kiss on her slightly parted and cold lips as he pulled the blade out of her chest. He lifted her into his arms and shimmered out of the room, leaving everyone to stare at each other. No one, save Jameson moved. He slowly walked to Charisma and lifted her into his arm as she cried. He, too, let his tears fall freely, allowing his brothers the knowledge of what he'd survived.
"I'm so sorry," Charisma whispered. She allowed Jameson to carry her out of the room and as they neared Liam, she reached out to place a hand on his shoulder. "I'm so sorry," she said again.
Liam only stared at the table.
Jameson carried Charisma out of the room, tightening his hold on her as he remembered how close he was to losing her. Conflicting emotions battled within him, and it wasn't long before he gave up and only concentrated on the woman in his arms. The rising sunlight prompted him to walk faster; soon there would be the normal activity of the city. Cars would race passed and those who chose to live near the abandoned section would rush through it to begin their day. "I love you," he murmured.
Fresh, stinging tears escaped Charisma's eyes as she nodded. "I love you too." This wasn't the kind of start she wanted with him, but after coming so close to death, she wasn't about to let him go. She made Nadia a promise and she would see it through. Loving Jameson was simply a wonderful bonus. "I would have taken her place to keep you alive."
Jameson remembered Nadia's revelation and only nodded in answer. "I know. I would die for you too." The cool night air did nothing to soothe him; with the exception of his time with Charisma, nothing would ebb the pain of his loss, of the loss he'd forced on his brother. Nadia's revelation did nothing to ease the burn of the ultimatum he'd been given, of the choice he made.
"What happens now?"
He stepped over a wayward limb before he said, "We say goodbye."
* * * * *
Charisma and Jameson returned to the safe house to find the living room littered with his brothers. Andraemalek wasn't there, but he'd taken the time to dress Nadia in ceremonial burial robes before placing her body on the couch. He'd also taken the time out to close her eyes. She looked very peaceful in the plum colored velvet robes, as if she were only napping. Her skin was ashen but still glowing, a common sign for someone of her paranormal status. It was common for the skin of a Daemis to glow after death and Jameson used to think it was because of the blood still in the body. But there was no blood; Zaide had drained her of it.
"Roman told us what happened," Slade said. With such a heavy silence in the air, he thought it best to be the one to begin some form of communication. He'd barely known Nadia a week, but yet she'd found a way to wiggle herself into his affections. Had he known this was to happen, he would have come home earlier, would have spent more time with her. He would have found a way to help. "She didn't tell anyone."
"She couldn't," Alexis replied. He rubbed the back of his neck with one hand as he stared at the body in the room. He couldn't call it Nadia; Nadia was a woman filled with life and love. A woman who risked everything for the ones she loved. The body in the room wasn't any of those things. "What she sees can't be changed."
"We could have tried something anyway," Liam muttered. Fighting was his in his blood; he fought for the innocent, and he fought to protect his family. Nadia fell into both categories so it only made sense that he would have done anything possible to protect her.
"Liam, she did what any one of us would have done," Roman tried to reason. It was the main reason he didn't fight harder to convince her to leave. He understood her motives and after putting himself in her place, he realized that he would have done the same. Her decision was still difficult for him to accept, however, and it made him that much more conflicted about whether to mourn her or celebrate her sacrifice.
"If that's not devotion and loyalty, I don't know what that is," Draco added.
"And look what it got her." Liam shook his head in disgust at the price innocent people had to pay for becoming part of their lives. "This is why we shouldn't have mates."
"Liam," Jameson warned. He understood his brother's line of reasoning, but that didn't mean he would allow the redhead to demean the relationship Nadia had with Andraemalek or the relationship he had with Charisma.
Liam turned and walked to stand in front of Jameson before he said, "Liam, nothing. Every single one of us knows that we'll be the ones paying for the old man's brilliant idea until we die. Nadia is a prime example of that."
"It won't always be like this."
Liam shook his head at his brother. "That's what you want to think because of Charisma. But tell me this. If the wondrous High Council wasn't out to punish us for his sins, why in the fuck would they show Nadia something as awful as what she had to go through?"
Jameson didn't have an answer to that. Part of him agreed with what Liam said, but another, more optimistic part didn't want to believe that the High Council would be so cruel as to force them into their line of work and not allow them a small piece of comfort. "She wouldn't want you to act this way."
"Something tells me she wouldn't want to be dead either," Slade interjected. He'd remained silent as he listened to his brothers argue, unsure of what view he wanted to take. He didn't think anyone noticed Euan enter the room before switching to his canine form. His brother quietly walked to Nadia's body and rested his chin on her stomach. Slade knew that Euan was taking time to say his goodbyes; he refocused his attention on Liam and Jameson to give Euan the privacy he needed.
"But she is dead," Alexis said.
"And she wouldn't want us arguing like this," Jameson defended.
"Stop!" Liam shouted. "Stop talking about her like she's not-"
Jameson watched as Liam paused to stare at the ground. He knew that his brother was having a hard time accepting what happened. They all were. "Like she's not here? She's not, Liam. Not anymore." Jameson found himself sighing when Liam pushed passed him to walk out of the room. He let out a very tired breath as he ran a hand over his disheveled hair. Suddenly, he didn't think he'd make it through the next five minutes without losing it.
Charisma sensed Jameson's distress and placed her hand in his. It was a small show of support, but she knew that it was what he needed when he gave her hand an appreciative squeeze. She didn't look at Nadia's body again, primarily because she knew that she would need to be sedated if she did. Instead, she focused her attention on the hand securely held in Jameson's. They were linked and gave each other the support that kept them calm. As long as he held on, she would be fine.
The silence in the room was enough to make even the most patient of people uncomfortable. Charisma thought it best to keep from asking questions; there was a great potential for another argument. She did not want to be the cause of it. For hours she stood in the room with Jameson and his brothers; the only time anyone left the room was to either have a moment alone, or to get her something to eat. Like she could; a permanent reminder of what her new life was about lay not five feet away. Charisma desperately wanted to ask Jameson why they stood. It was obvious that they were waiting, but she didn't know what for. With every passing minute, the air in the room became thicker, heavier, as if emphasizing the seriousness of what was to come. She didn't want any more surprises; Charisma wanted her new family to heal.
"Did anyone tell Caleb?"
Alexis only looked at Slade for a moment before he shook his head. "He probably already knows." Caleb's telepathic abilities allowed him and Euan to mentally communicate during times of high stress. If Euan didn't outright tell him, Caleb would still know because of the distress his brother felt. "He'll say goodbye when he's ready to."
"I don't think anyone is ready to," Draco announced.
"No, we aren't," Jameson said. He looked out the window and sighed at the sight of the setting sun. "The sun is setting."
The announcement set Alexis in motion. "It's time."
"We can't do this without D.," Roman interrupted.
"They said their goodbyes in that room," Jameson said, "You saw the look in his eyes. He doesn't want to watch her go."
"But he should be here for the ritual."
"What ritual?" Charisma asked. Yet another part of their life she would have to learn.
Jameson chose to acknowledge Roman's statement first. "He should be here, but he isn't going to be. I don't blame him."
"Neither do I." Liam crossed his arms over his chest as he leaned his shoulder against the door jamb. "Everything is set up for the ritual."
"We have to set Nadia's soul free," Jameson explained to Charisma. "When someone we love dies, we burn the body so that the High Council will allow the soul to be reborn." He neglected to mention that reincarnation was entirely up to the High Council. If they so chose, the soul could be implanted into a newborn animal, or worse, a dead body that already contained a soul. Such a fate was worse than what most would consider hell.
"I thought a soul just left a body once someone dies." At least that's what she'd been taught growing up.
"No, a body can't live very long without a soul, but a soul can stay inside a dead body indefinitely."
A flash of a cemetery came to Charisma's mind. "So the people who are buried..."
Jameson remained silent as he watched Alexis walk to Nadia's body. He brushed his fingertips over her hair. Even the silken strands were cold with death. The second he touched her, a soft, gentle breezed swept through the room. It was a comforting breeze, one that made Jameson remember to value the life he hadn't lost. The life he would live with Charisma.
"It's time," Alexis said.
Everyone watched Liam walk to Nadia's body. The usually gruff man lifted her into his arms and placed a gentle kiss on her cold brow before he walked out of the room. The others followed behind him.
Jameson would have followed as well but stopped when Charisma remained rooted in place. "What's wrong?"
"I don't think I can watch again."
He pulled her into his arms and rested his chin on her forehead. "This is our way of sending her on a peaceful journey."
"But if I'd stayed here-"
Jameson quickly calmed her rising panic by placing a soft kiss on her lips. "You did what you thought was right. We have to thank her for giving up her love so that we could have ours. We have to be there to bless her next life with happiness."
Another breeze caressed the room, causing Charisma to sigh. She wasn't able to blame herself when that breeze washed over her. "Ok. Just don't..." She looked down at their still joined hands before saying, "I won't be able to get through it without you."
"I'll be right there next to you the entire time. I'll never leave your side again."
Charisma nodded in relief and allowed Jameson to lead her toward the door. "Shouldn't we close the windows before we leave?" There was no telling when anyone would be in the house again and with the risk of rain, closing the windows seemed like a smart choice.
Jameson didn't look back as he said, "The windows in this safe house are bolted shut."
I know I know... Another short one. Forgive me; there is a method to my madness.