My brain pounded against my skull. I was in so much pain. What had happened? The events of the night before had flooded my memory. Aria. How could a girl one met only mere hours ago ruin someone’s life? He hadn’t realized the grunt that escaped his lips as he tried to pick himself up off the bed he found himself in until he heard a female’s voice.
“Alistair.” Aria let out a breath of relief. “I thought I might have used too much of my power on you! Thank the Watcher that you’re alright.”
I looked around, where was I exactly? I was still wearing the tuxedo that I had put on for my birthday party, but the red walls didn’t seem familiar at all. “Where are we?”
“My house.” She looked at me, as if I had said something idiotic. But had I really? How would I know this was her house if I’ve never been here before? “What did those guys do to you?” She frowned. “They brainwashed you and turned you against me!”
“What are you talking about?” I examined my surroundings. Would I be able to escape if I got the opportunity? The door was pretty far, but if I could find my wand I’d be able to stun the vampiress long enough for me to escape.
“It saddens me that you don’t remember the promise that you made to me, all those years ago. I can’t believe they picked this body for you. It’s cute, but I just wish you were still a vampire.” She began to stroke my arm.
“Excuse me?” I had jumped up from the bed, suddenly waking up from my stupor. “Are you insane? What are you even saying right now?”
“I didn’t tell you because I was sure that you’d freak out like this,” She sighed. “Lucas and Declan probably don’t know about you either. Your name isn’t Alistair. It’s Altiere. You were a vampire in your past life, but those guardians, they did something to you. I don’t know how, but I know it’s you.”
“I’m not doing anything. You are! I knew it, he was right, you’re really linked to him. Part of him is inside of you!” She cried, grabbing a hold of my arms.
“Damnit Aria, tell me what is going on right now!” I felt myself getting dizzy. I was anticipating another vision but this time the pain didn’t come, I just felt an immense pressure pushing down on my chest. “Why…?” I choked out. “I’m suffocating…”
She grabbed me and pulled me tightly to her chest. What you’d think would make me lose my breath even more, actually helped me. I felt my breath returning. She smiled softly. “This always made Altiere feel better.”
“No.” I tried to shake my head. “That isn’t me. Please, it isn’t me. I’m Alistair Gray. That’s it.”
“You look like him, almost identical!” She exclaimed, holding me tighter. “He is a part of you, I know it. I can feel it.”
I shoved her violently away from me. I hadn’t meant to push her that hard, but I was angry. “You have to explain this to me from the very fucking beginning. Start with my clothes, what’s happening. Why do I feel like everything is changing?”
“Because it is,” She said seriously. “He was right. You’re a time distorter. It’s a defense mechanism that your brain uses. You were made in the future through a test tube. Normally that’s safe, at least from what I’m told. He said it wasn’t normal, that you were a witch. That’s because of Altiere’s genes. Without them, you wouldn’t have survived so long. You’re not supposed to exist, but because of my love, you do.” She inched closer and I took a step back. Her love? No, more importantly, I shouldn’t have existed. How was I supposed to feel about that? Lucky? When I felt like I didn’t belong, was it because I wasn’t supposed to? No, my dads loved me and treated me like a prince. Was that all a lie? She continued to speak. “When you can’t handle something, your brain taps into your magic, and some of Altiere’s vampiric powers. That’s why you see visions. When it’s really tough, like right now, your brain tries to protect you. It’s trying to eradicate the problem and it’s doing so by speeding up time. You changed clothes because this is further in the future from when you first woke up. When your brain feels particularly threatened, it’ll change the time even more. You’re a distorter, there’s only you. You’re one of a kind. Thanks to Altiere…” She looked at me hungrily.
I took a step back. “That doesn’t make any sense…stop!” My head pounded with all the new information. I was a time distorter? Who was Altiere exactly, and what was he capable of? Who told her all of this? “You’re wrong. That’s impossible. All of it, impossible!”
“Don’t you get it Alistair?” Aria nearly shouted. “I wouldn’t waste my time on a mere halfbreed like you if thats what you really were. You’re part vampire. In the lab, you almost died. They didn’t know that when they mixed Ethan’s genes with your father’s that it’d produce a witch. After all, it worked with your sister Pandora. She turned out fine, so why should they worry? You’re a magnificent creature. With a little help from me, you can return to your former glory, as Altiere. Full vampire, and you can take care of our kids…”
I held my hands up. “No. Not our kids. We don’t have kids.”
She shook her head. “We have kids. You just don’t remember because your brain blocked it out.”
“Shut up!” I growled. “You’re just trying to rope me in to do your bidding! Leave me alone! I need to get back home and find my siblings! I have a girlfriend, I have everything I need. You’re not a part of that!”
“You really don’t get it do you? They say humans only utilize a certain percentage of their brains. Well, us supernaturals use even more. You, you use the most, that’s why you’re able to control time. You’re Emit’s great grandson after all. You can go and see them yourself. They exist Alistair, Charlotte and Adeline. They’re twins.”
Falling to my knees, I felt it…a vision.
“Aly.” Aria sighed in content. “You get better everytime.”
I watched myself chuckle and pull her closer. “Anything to please my lady.” She leaned up and kissed me on the lips. No, that wasn’t right. That couldn’t be right. There was a curse. There’d be no way for us to have kids if that’s what really happened.
A cry could be heard. Aria snuggled closer to my body and looked up. “Is it my turn or your turn?”
“I don’t want to ever get up,” I watched myself mumble. “I love when you’re in my arms.” No, the only girl I ever saw myself being so close to was Madleynn. Not Aria. Something was very wrong.
“Neither do I, I’ll call Pepper on the baby monitor.” Aria leaned over and pressed a button.
“Be a dear and tend to the children. Aly and I are busy.”
“Madam, I’m busy at the moment-” But Aria cut her off.
“I said now Pepper! One of our beautiful princesses is crying. I thought Alistair was your best friend. You sure aren’t acting like it!”
“I’m so sorry Madam. I’ll get on it right away!” Pepper said quickly.
“Now, where were we?” Aria looked up at me and kissed my lips greedily, and I watched myself kiss her back!? No. No, I’d never treat Pepper like that. I’d never believe this was me. Never, there were too many faults.
“What did you see?” She asked.
I looked up at her, hating her more now than I ever had. “We’re not a thing. We’ll never be a thing!”
“We are. You saw it, didn’t you!? We’re already married Alistair! We have two daughters!” She grabbed my arm. “Now, stop being ridiculous.”
“No!” I yanked my arm back from her grasp. “It’s impossible. There’s a curse, remember? If you sleep with someone who isn’t a purebreed vampire, they’ll lose the ability to reproduce.”
“Altiere is in your blood! How many times do I have to tell you? He was second only to my father in power! Of course it’s possible! Please snap out of this, Aly.”
“Don’t call me that!” I shouted. “You don’t have the right! I have a girlfriend, I’d never sleep with you, or even marry you!”
“You need more proof? Then fine! Look at the magic mirror. I’ll show you what Madlynn is up to these days. She stopped waiting for you.”
No. This is what happened to my dad. I have to find that Mason guy. He’d be able to reverse this, right? He’d probably cause more trouble. I had to find Emit! Wouldn’t the guardians know about something like this?
I wanted to vomit. The picture in the mirror…no, it wasn’t true. I know I told her not to wait for me, but I somehow believed that I’d be the only one she was thinking about. I loved her so much that I wouldn’t even look at another girl here. In only one year she was snuggling up to some other guy. “it hasn’t been a year, it’s been three,” Aria said. I looked at her. I’m sure it was a mixture of shock, anger and confusion. “I can read minds, vampires do that.”
“Leave me alone!” I demanded.
“Do you want me to tell my dad that you told your wife to leave you alone? I’m the one who saved you from him, he tried to kill you! I told him to stop because I love you Aly! That girl, she doesn’t. Look at her all cozy with that other guy. She didn’t wait for you and you don’t have to wait for her! You have me!”
“I don’t want you!” I boomed. If it was any other circumstance, I might have felt a sense of remorse, but not today. I meant it. Aria wasn’t what I wanted. None of this was. I just wanted to live a normal life, but then my siblings disappeared, my father got shot, my grandfather…wait, where was Lucas!? Why hadn’t he and the others come to save me?
“You don’t want me?” She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at me. “I’m giving you one day to sort your feelings out. Go and help Pepper with the babies. Sleep down there, and when morning comes, if you feel the same way, you can leave and take those brats with you.”
“Excuse me?” I demanded. “I’m not taking two babies with me! I am ninteen years old, I don’t need that kind of burden!”
“You should have kept it in your pants then!” She shouted back, just as viciously. “You’re 22, suck it up and be a man. Accept the fact that you sped up time yourself. I don’t care if you don’t remember, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. It happened, and you have two daughters. Daddy doesn’t even know, when he finds out that you got me pregnant, he’s going to kill you and the girls. He despises anyone with the Gray blood. Unless you let me protect you.”
“Which way is the nursery?” I demanded. This was absolutely ridiculous and unfair. My dad had to do the same thing, did history repeat itself? What about my siblings? Did I just leave them to rot in imaginationland? What the hell happened? Was it really three years later?
“Yes my lady?” Pepper’s small voice asked.
“Pepper, it’s me,” I said. Why did she shrink back even more? “Hey, I’m not going to hurt you.” I held my hands up in front of me. “What’s wrong?”
She stared at me, fright spreading across her features. “I’m sorry sir! I didn’t know that you and Aria were busy! I tried my best to quiet her, but she won’t stop.”
It was then that I noticed the crying baby. Letting out a deep breath, I took a step forward. A baby. My baby. No, it couldn’t be. Aria was trying to play a trick on me. As I got closer, Pepper inched further and further away. “Pepper, I told you that I’m not going to hurt you.”
She ignored me and took another step back. “Please sir, your child is crying.” What the hell was that all about?
“Which one is she?” I asked quietly, not wanting to disturb the child in my arms. I don’t know why, but in that moment I was filled with awe. There was such a tiny little creature in my arms, and she was smiling, like she was happy to see me.
“Charlotte sir,” Pepper answered.
“Why do you keep calling me sir? I’m not your master. I never was, I’m your friend, Pepper.”
“Are you feeling alright, sir?” Pepper asked, eyeing me suspiciously.
“No, I sure as hell am not,” I answered honestly. “Pepper, how long have you known me?”
“For at least 16 years when you forgot about me,” She answered. “Why?”
“Have I ever acted like this? Rude, I mean. Have I ever aligned myself with someone like Aria?” I asked.
She was hesitant to answer. “No but..”
“But what? Please, I trust you. Tell me,” I urged her.
“It’s been at least six years. How can I judge how a person changes. I can’t base my assumption on how you were,” She answered.
“Please believe m,” I begged her. “This, all of this, isn’t me. This isn’t whats ssupposed to happen. I just want to find my siblings and now I have two kids. Oh Watcher, what the heck am I going to do?”
“Alistair!” I turned around at the sound of that voice.
“Declan!?” I let out a sigh of relief. “You have no idea how happy I am to see you!” But then I stopped myself, something was off. He looked exhausted. Something had happened. “Are you, alright?”
“Yeah,” He muttered. “I haven’t slept since the night of your party. We were looking everywhere for you, Aria hid you really well. Not to mention the time difference…”
“So, you still think I’m 19?” I asked excitedly.
“Yes, but by the looks of it, the world around you doesn’t.” He motioned to the baby in my arms. “What gives?”
“I don’t know. Aria said she was my wife or something. Can that be true?” I asked.
“The curse,” Declan said. “It’s impossible.”
“She said I had some guy Altiere inside of me, whatever that means. Wait, how did you find me?”
Declan fixed his hat. “We tried everyplace we could think of Alistair. She closed you off with her powers, sealed off your whereabouta. We finally find you because Lucas had this gut feeling and when we got here, Aria starts yelling at Lucas to leave her husband alone. I just snuck in down here. But, I’m shocked by all of this. You need to calm your emotions and keep them in check. Alistair, somehow your unstable emotions are causing rifts in time. You’re essentially speeding up time yourself. Lucas and I had a special spell on us all night while we searched, but everyone thinks that it’s been three years. I mean, it has been but they somehow remember living through that quick span of time.”
“Declan, Alistair!” Lucas called out.
“Sir, what happened?” Declan asked.
“This is the first time I’ve ever experienced a time distortion. Alistair, your powers are quite remarkable.” He smiled at me, but I couldn’t look more miserable.
“Gramps, please tell me theres a way to fix this,” I pleaded. “Please.”
He shook his head and frowned. “Alistair, what you did, I don’t know how that’s even a possibility. We have to go to see Emit right now and see if he can reverse this.”
“What abou those children?” Declan asked. “Do we just leave them?”
“Gramps, we can’t,” I said quickly, remembering what Aria said. “Damian will kill them. They’re my blood.”
Lucas angrily slammed his fist against the wall. “Sir…” Declan began.
“How the hell could she do this to you?” Lucas demanded. “Damnit, this is my fault! Maybe if the distortion happened while you wer under my care…”
“It doesn’t matter, what do we do now?” I asked.
“We can’t reverse the time,” Lucas said solemnly. “Look at you, already cradling the baby. You realize if we reverse time, these children will never exist. You’ll ultimately be killing them. Can you live with that?”
I looked down at the now sleeping child in my arms and then at Pepper. “I…no. No, I know it’s not the same thing as killing a baby and I’ve only known this child for a few minutes, but I can’t help but think that I’m taking away an opportunity from her, from them.”
“Alistair,” Declan said. “Don’t give up your entire life to raise some babies you didn’t know even existed.”
“Fine,” I mumbled. He was right. My entire life would be ruined. I wouldn’t get to experience all that life had to offer if I was stuck watching not one, but TWO children. No. I couldn’t let them dictate my life. “But, can you please make me forget that this ever happebed?” I whispered, avoiding eye contact with Pepper. “Please, just make sure I don’t know that they ever existed. That’s all I want, and to find my siblings.”
“Declan, I need you to stay here,” Lucas said. “Lay low and find a place to set up camp.”
“I know.” He nooded. “I need to babysit the halfbreed again.”
“More like thirdbreed,” I mumbled under my breath. I was also part vampire apparently.
“She told me the same thing about Altiere. I need to look more into that,” Lucas said. “But it’d explain the visions. He was known for his visual prowess. Some thought he’d even be better than Damian himself. None of that happened because he died very young. At least young for a vampire.”
“I don’t wan to stay here,” I murmured, trying to fight back the tears. “You’re asking too much. I can’t do it on my own! I’m just a kid, let me live my life. I can’t do this.”
Declan grabbed my shoulders sharply and forced me to look at him. Instead of yelling he answered me in a gentle voice. “Alistair, I am here for you every damn step of the way. No matter what. I’ll be here to help you raise these kids if thats what you want.”
I blinked back the tears. Coming from Declan, that meant alot. “Seriously? I won’t have to figure this out on my own?”
He shook his head and smiled. “No, now, Pepper hand me th eother child. We’re getting out of here. You’re welcome to come with us. Aria isn’t going to hurt these children as long as I’m here. Alistair can’t stay here either. Pepper, if you so choose-”
“No, please get me out of here. I HATE her!” Pepper nearly exclaimed. “I depsise that filthy woman.” But I still felt like Pepper was watching me from the corner of her eye. What had I done to her?
“Ok, I’ll still need to go see Emit and see if there’s anything he knows. Something to reverse this, or some kind of solution. Declan, I’m leaving you in charge. Remember that group project I assigned you two? Well here it is. Help eachother out, and then Declan, you’ll be my true successor.”
Declan nodded ferociously. “Sir, I promise you I won’t let you down.” But then her turned to me and smiled. “You know, you’re a pain in the ass right? Patrick would have never gotten into this mess.”
“Too bad Patrick isn’t your best friend.” I smirked and he looked away embarassed. “Yeah, I heard you talking to Sienna. You’re a jerk, but it works for us. Huh?”
Declan nodded and smiled. “Yeah, now lets get out of here before Aria gets suspicious. She thinks we left ad she’s too angry with you to come and check.”
I nodded and followed Declan. This wasn’t what I thought my life would look like. Heck, I didn’t even know if this is what it’d look like in a few minuted. It terrified me beyond no end that at any moment, my body would activate my powers and speed up time. Time was such a precious thing. My dad never did get those four years he lost back. I probably wouldn’t either and if my body kept this up, I’d barely live any life at all.