“Alistair.” I tried to ignore his looming figure, but he wouldn’t leave until he got an answer from me. He grabbed my elbow and willed me to look at him.
“Yes, grandpa?” I sighed in annoyance.
“What’s wrong with you?” He frowned, watching me. “It’s Declan’s choice to bring back Ethan. I’m not anymore thrilled about it than you are. Declan is like the son I wished I could have raised. When I lost Ethan and Dax, I lost a part of myself. Declan helped me see that life wasn’t over for me just because I had lost some important people in my life. It sounds ridiculous, but I’m grateful for both you and him. He’s strong minded, if he’s made up his mind, then theres no changing it. He’s going to do it and you can’t really stop him.”
I stared straight ahead. I hadn’t heard Altiere’s voice like he had said I would, but still his image was so burned into my mind. Our conversaion kept replaying itself. Did Altiere really care for Declan? If that was the case, he wanted what was best for him…and it wasn’t like I hadn’t wanted the same thing for Declan right? I hadn’t wanted him to give up his powers and neither did Altiere. The time distortions would stop, and everyone would win. But it still felt so wrong. I got a bad taste in my mouth every time I thought about Declan or heard his name spoken aloud. I hadn’t approached him, nor had I wanted to. I wanted the problem to sort itself out. But, it wouldn’t be that easy, would it? Declan was hiding a huge secret and protecting Sienna wasn’t a strong enough reason for me. It made me angry, because deep down I knew that what Altiere said was true. Declan had to have been working with Damian and I was angry that I was so damn blind to it. He was probably leading me clsoer and closer to my demise to protect his sister. It wasn’t fair, he had told me that I needed to tell him everything so he could protect me…I really was an idiot. I looked up at Lucas finally and shrugged. “How do you know that Declan is really who you say he is? How do you know that bringing my dad back to life won’t complicate things further?”
“Emit has told me that was the best course of action. He’s expressed his interest in helping the Gray family. Alistair, you’re his great grandson, he isn’t heartless like the rest of the guardians,” Lucas explained. “What are you getting at anyway? Are you saying that Declan wants to bring Ethan to life for a reason other than helping you?”
“No,” I mumbled looking away. Lucas had so much faith in Declan. At the end of the day, I wondered if there was a choice, would he choose me or the pink haired male? Sure I was family, but he had known Declan for much longer. It wasn’t possible for him to be tricking one of the wisest men in Moonlight Falls, was it? I suddenly felt ashamed of myself. “I just…when have the guardians ever pointed my family in the right direction?”
“Emit is trying his hardest to separate himself from them, but he feels like he can’t. I don’t know what’s stopping him, but he doesn’t want to hurt you. At least, that’s not the vibe I get from him.”
“Right.” I ran my fingers through my hair. “What if I told you there was another way that we could get into Imaginationland.”
He took a seat next to me. “Then I’d say, let’s hear it.”
I straightened up. “Mason Moon.”
He raised his brow. “That man is dangerous. Maybe even more so than the guardians and Damian put together.”
“But he’s powerful,” I said.
“His only goal is destroying your family,” Lucas clarified. “How is that going to work? He isn’t going to just help you so easily. You’re going to have to give him something in return, something you won’t want to give up.”
“Alistair, Mr. Nair…” Pepper said cautiously. Pepper was someone else that had made me nervous in this house. There were so many unexplained mysteries. Why couldn’t the truth present itself?
“Yes, dear?” Lucas stood up and motioned for her to sit, but she politely declined.
“I’m sorry,” She said quietly. “That I can’t be of more help.”
“Don’t worry about it, this isn’t your problem to worry about. You were dragge dinto this by Cora and Aria. We should be apologizing to you for that,” Lucas said gently.
“No.” She shook her head. “I’m an imaginary friend and I can’t even get you to imaginationland. It’s kind of sad, isn’t it? I don’t even know where it is. That place is legend even to us. I’m not sure if it’s even a real place to be honest with you.”
“You’re saying that there’s a chance that it’s not a real place?” I asked angrily. “Than where are my siblings?” I demanded.
“It is a real place,” Lucas cut in. “That’s where I sent Rickie. The risk with bringing your father back to life is that it may also ressurect Rickie.”
“Was Rickie his imaginary friend?” Pepper asked.
“Who?” I asked.
“Right, your book didn’t chronicle that. Where should I begin?” He pondered for a minute before giving me and Pepper a brief summary.
“He brought Rickie to life which means that they’re connected!” Pepper snapped her fingers as if it all made sense. “When Ethan died, Rickie must have died.” She looked at me. “When the person that is connected to the imaginary friend dies, the imaginary friend dies as well. So, if Cora dies, I’ll die.”
“Damn it!” I stood up angrily. “Does this mean that…Night!” I exclaimed. “I need to find Scarlett…if I know Night he’ll do anything to protect her. You’re saying if he dies, she’ll die too? Or is it just the other way around?”
“It’s both ways,” Pepper explained. “There’s a connection and death is passed through to both people.”
“This changes everything,” I mumbled. “Are Ken and Bailey there too? That means…Ryder and Amelia are alive as well? If that’s the case, I need to make sure that they’re safe. And what about Pandora?” I rubbed my temple. “I need to speak to Declan.” I stood up angrily. I needed to know the truth, so much was riding on this man’s validity. It wasn’t fair, those imaginary friends were living for two people now. It never occured to me that my siblings may have been dead, but now, I wasn’t so sure.
“Declan!” I said angrily, practically slamming the door open.
“Quite, will you? You’ll wake the girls,” Declan said, turning around.
I nearly fell over. “What the hell…your hair, your face, your clothes! What happened?”
He rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “Sienna said that I looked good. But I look like an idiot, I knew it. Shouldn’t have shaved my beard.”
“What? No. You look good, I just wasn’t expecting that. Why did you change your look?” I eyed him cautiously.
“I want to blend in Sunlit Tides as best as I can. I don’t want to stick out, I want to live a normal life. Is this how you guys dress over there or…?” His voice trailed as I approached him.
“That’s a rock band from my world on your shirt.” I pointed out. “Where did you get that?”
“Robin,” he said nonchalantly. “Well, his museum at least. Sienna knew where he kept all of his belongings and since he wasn’t there we figured he wouldn’t mind if we borrowed it.”
“Why are you doing this?” I asked. “I want the honest truth. Don’t give me some bullshit answer, okay?”
“Because I care about you,” He said. “That’s why I have to do this for you.”
“Is that the real reason?” I asked again. “Think long and hard about this answer. My entire family is on the line. You know how much my siblings mean to me. You have your own sister. Please don’t play with me.”
“I’m not playing with you Alistair, what is this about?” He frowned as I crossed my arms over my chest. “I want whats best for you. I’ll do anything for those that I care about.”
“I know, that’s what Altiere told me.” I lowered my eyes.
“Altiere?” Declan stiffened at the mention of his name. “You mean the guy that Aria was comparing you to? Was that what your vision was about yesterday?”
“Don’t pretend like you don’t know him. I know all about your past with him. He was your lover, wasn’t he?” I asked.
Running his hand through his exposed hair, Declan sighed. “He’s finally free in your brain. You can hear him, or do you see him as well?”
I crossed my arms over my chest. “I’m not telling you anything anymore. Not until I hear the damn truth from your lips. Did you kill Altiere because Damian asked you to?”
“To protect my sister, it was the only way. I’m all she has, I needed her to be safe. You understand that don’t you?” He asked.
So he was right then. That means that everything else he said was true.” I shut my eyes tightly. “How much did you tell Damian about me?”
“What? Nothing!” He cried. “I haven’t dealt with Damian in regards to you. I’d never sell you out. How could you even think that?”
“You’re working with Damian, that’s why you want to give up your powers. It’s not for me! It’s for him, so that Altiere can never come back to life!” I was shouting now, but Declan made no move to quiet me.
“I understand that you’re upset, but you need to listen to me. You’re the only person I’m doing this for. This second deal with Damian wasn’t to protect Sienna, it was to protect you. He could have easily killed you, he’s much stronger than Lucas. Even I’m no match for him! But the reason he’s left you alone this far is because of my deal with him! I promised him that Altiere would never be a threat again because I’d get rid of him for good!” Delan was shouting now just as loud. “I rather have you than Altiere, don’t you get it?”
“I get that you’re manipulative and can sweet talk your way out of any situation,” I spat. “I can’t believe I opened up to you yesterday! I let you know my insecurites and my fears. I thought you were my friend, and here youa re lying to my face! I don’t care about Damian, you should have come to me first. It’s my life. I’m sick and tired of everyone doing thiings that they think is best for me! The guardians gave me vampire children, Xerxes dropped me off here, and now you’re even telling me that I need you to protect me! It sounds to me like I would have been better off if I was never even created at all. I’m not natural, is that why you all think you can control me?”
“Are you done?” Declan’s voice was stern. The anger was protruding from his eyes. “I’m not trying to control you. I’ve been here longer than you have. Damian killed my parents, he has my best friends working for him, he scared your fathers away from Moonlight Falls, I just found out that he knows where my mother has been all this time… So excuse me if I want to shield you from that monster! I don’t think you should have to deal with him. He’s fucking dangerous Alistair, nothing you do will change him, he’s too powerful!”
I felt the tears biting at my eyes but I wouldn’t let them fall. Not in front of Declan, not now. “You have no right sheltering me. I’m not a baby. I can choose what’s right for me! You worry about yourself and let me worry about me.” I felt the anger rising within me. “Ever since day one, you couldn’t mind your business could you? You never wanted me here, and then you start telling me what to do, and that I have to tell you everything! Did you tell Damian about my visions too!?”
“No! Of course not!” He exclaimed. “Why would I do that? I didn’t want you here because everytime I saw your face I thought of Altiere and what I was forced to do to him! You’re the spitting image of him Alistair, excuse me for not wanting to relive my past. We weren’t exactly the most functioning couple. That man should have not been my first romantic relationship, but I needed the power. I needed to protect Sienna. I wish you’d see things my way. I’m not trying to hurt you! If I revive Ethan, you’ll get what you want. Don’t you think I’d love for someone to make this sacrifice for me? What I’d give to see my father one more time.” He was now crying. “I’m willing to give up everything for you, Alistair. I want you to see your dad again! I want you to save your siblings! I Want you to live the life that you deserve to live! I don’t know what that bastard has been putting in your head, but I’m doing this for you and only you.”
The tears were now falling from my eyes as well. “You have no reason to do that! You don’t mean a word that you just said! You’re just looking out for your sister! You could have came to me, I could have helped you figure something out! Lucas could have helped you! You didn’t have to hurt me! You didn’t need to betray me!”
“Alistair…” His voice was suddenly soft. “You’re not seeing it, are you? I’d never hurt you, at least not intentionally. Everything I’ve done is for you.” Before I even knew what was happening, I felt lips on mine. Was Declan kissing me!? I felt his strong arms around my waist, and I instinctively put my hands at the nape of his neck as if I was kissing Madelynn. He pulled away as quickly as he had placed his lips on mine. He left his head against mine and chuckled. “You look like a deer in headlights.”
“You just kissed me…” I stammered. “A dude just kissed me.”
He pulled away from me. “Before you say anything else, let me just get this off my chest, alright? Then you can play the, “I’m not gay, I have a girlfriend at home” card.” I just stared at him. What would I say? I couldn’t even put my thoughts into words. What the hell just happened? “I love you. I tried to fight the feelings for so damn long. Every time I saw you, I wanted to punch you in the damn face. You look just like that freaking vampire and I hated him so fucking much. He made me feel powerless, like I wasn’t ever going to be good enough without him. Then, Lucas forced us to join together and I realized you weren’t as bad as I thought you were. I really did want to be the keeper of magic, none of that was a joke. But, I’m able to move within a time distortion just like you’re able to cause them because of Altiere’s power. I tried to hide any link I had to him, but of course he has to come out and stir up trouble. Patrick is alive, but it isn’t because of any deal I made with Damian. He and the others are working on their own things. I care about you more than I’ve ever cared about another human being. You understand me. You know what it feels like to lose a parent, to feel powerless in protecting those you care about, to be pushed down by others and to rise above that. You’re a hell of a strong man, and I can’t help but be in love with you. I love your daughters immensely, and that’s why I’m going to walk out of this building right now and go to the time portal. I’ll revive Ethan and you can go save your siblings and then take over as Keeper of Magic. I won’t stand in your way any longer, but before I left, I needed you to know how I felt.”
He turned to walk away but I grabbed onto his arm. “Declan wait.”
“No, don’t. You don’t have to say anything. I’m happy with everything. This is my choice. You don’t have to feel bad for not returning my feelings. I’m still going to do this for you.”
“I’m sorry,” I said sincerely.
“For what?” He asked softly. “I’d be suspicious too. Damian is like one of those huge villains in those books you read right? What sane person wouldn’t be upset that someone they were so close to had a deal with the villain?”
“You make me so angry, if I’m being honest with you. You were going through my stuff?”
“I just wanted to see what made you tick. You’re always reading those books.” He chuckled.
“Not books, manga,” I corrected him. “Still, even if you have a deal with Damian… even if you sold me out to Damian himself, you’d still be my best friend. I know, it’s idiotic, but I can’t help the way I feel.” I let my grasp on his arm fall.
“I’m leaving now. Please take care of my sister and friends, and destroy Damian. Oh yeah, one more thing, Altiere is someone you might want to stay clear of, he’s not one to have anyone else’s but his own best interest in mind. I know you’ll do a great job, just remember everything that I told you.” And that was it, I watched him walk out of my life. I hadn’t stopped him like Altiere wanted, I didn’t have the courage.
AN: I cannot get over how different Declan looks without his hat and beard! The next chapter will be the spouse poll. Choices are Madelynn, Pepper and Declan. Think about who you’d liek to vote for 😀