Alistair led me upstairs and disappeared. He was probably disgusted with me. Hell, I was disgusted with myself too. I had waltzed into some strannge land that my siblings called home and attacked her husband. I was so damn angry, i was seeing stars. If dad wasn’t there I would have blasted Night with a spell. And, I’d be in even more trouble than I already was. I let my mind wander to Declan. How was he? I missed him already. After letting myself experience the love I had been holding back out of fear, I felt much more worried than I did relieved. Declan was constantly on my mind and it hurt not being with him, now of all times. I wanted to feel his lips on mine once more. The senstation would be enough to calm me down. I wanted to leave all of this and run away with him and the girls. We’d have a happy life. Why shouldn’t we? My dads did, and hell they even had kids of their own. I don’t know if I’d do that myself though, especially not with the way I was created. It was too dangerous, too unreliable, too faulty. “No! I hate him, I’m not staying with him!” Alistair yelled. I chuckled. Yeah, he hated my guts. I didn’t blame the kid. I turned over on the hard floor and grunted. How much longer until I got to leave?
“He is your uncle!” Scarlett called after him. “You will not be disrespectful to him!”
“Why would you name me after someone so horrible!” He shouted back.
I held my head in my hands. Horrible. Yes, that was me. Horrible. I caused pain and destruction to everyone I came in contact with. My dads, Sienna, Declan, my daughters, my siblings, my nephew…I was running out of people to disappoint. Laughing bitterly, I began to hum, to tune out the excess noise. I knew I was a screw up, I didn’t have ot be reminded of it on a daily basis. Scarlett was happy with Night, so I’d leave and find my other siblings. I’d wait until dad was asleep and just book it. He’d try to stop me, sure, but I didn’t have time to waste. I had my own kids to worry about and Scarlett seemed so comfortable with her own. I didn’t need to drag her down with me. Night would protect her, othwerwise I’d kill him with my own bare hands.
“Get up.” I felt feet kick me. “Mom says that you need some pillows. I want to just leave you here. You’re lucky she’s so nice.”
“I love your mother,” I said, laughing at how it sounded. “Not like that, but she’s my big sis and I want to protect her. You can understand that right? Wouldn’t you be mad if someone hurt your little sister?”
“Yeah, they’re trying now,” Alistair mumbled. “I won’t let them though.”
“It’s okay if you hate me,” I said. “I don’t expect you to like me. You just met me. i do, however expect you not to hurt me when I try to save your yuncle and aunt.”
“How?” He asked. “I want out just as much as you do.”
“I’m sneaking out later, kid. I need your help. I promise you won’t be hurt.”
“Why should I help you?” He growled. “Give me a good reason.”
“You’re a Gray,” I answered. “Grays put family first, no matter what. That’s why I’m here instead of back home where it’s safe with my boyfriend and daughters. Don’t you want to meet your cousins?”
“No,” Alistair mumbled. “But I want to meet my other grandpa, and my other uncle and aunts.”
“If you help me, they’ll be safe,” I chided. “You just have to show me where to go. I won’t put you in danger. I have magic that will stop anyone from hurting you-hey! Are you listening?”
He had crawled on his hands and knees, ducked under his bed and peered into the darkness. “Ahhh!” He let out a piercing shriek. “They’re back! They’re back! Prove it! Get rid of them!”
I cautiously kneeled down, expecting the worst. We were in Imaginationland afterall, anything was fair game. I didn’t see tentacles of shadows reaching out from under the bed, or red glaring eyes. No, What I saw was ordinary. Nothing, there was nothing there. Even he, had an imagination. I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t instead I crossed my arms over my chest. “I’m a mage, and I can expell those demons from under your bed.”
“You can?” He asked, breath quickening. “Hurry up and do it then, before they get me! Mom doesn’t let me sleep in her room anymore when I see them. She thinks I’m lying! But they’re there, I see them.”
“What can they do to you?” I asked, playing along.
“Hurt me, take my soul, I don’t know! I try to stay as far away from them as possible. I can’t fight them back, they’re shadows!”
“Calm down, kid.” I patted his head. “Just watch me.” I pulled out my wand and did a simple spell. Something that was flashy, but wouldn’t damage anything in his room. Scarlett would kill me if I ruined their nice house, or wrose, scarred her child.
“Told you, I’m powerful.” I smiled at the boy. “But, you have to help me.”
“I will. I promise.: He nodded vigorously. “I don’t hate you anymore.”
“That’s it?” I laughed. “All it took was a little magic?”
“Duh, you’re not someone I would want against me.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “Just don’t ever say those things to dad again, because he’s even scarier than I am.”
“I know,” I mumbled. “He’s an imaginary friend. Nothing is more dangerous than something you don’t understand.”
“Whats all the commotion in here? Are you guys fighting?” We both turned to see Scarlett by the door.
“On the contrary,” I explained. “We’re becoming friends.” I put my finger to my lip quickly, telling him to hide the magic and he nodded.
“Good, good,” Scarlett said happily. As if the fight we had earlier hadn’t happened at all. “Get to bed Alistair. Little Alistair that is. Get some sleep, now.”
“I’m not tired,” He complained.
“Your uncle can’t sleep until you sleep,” She explained. “So let him get some rest. He has some important things to do in the morning. Okay?”
“Fine,” He groaned, hopping into bed. “Take a pillow Alistair!” He tossed one, hitting me right in the face. “Your reflexes suck.”
“Shut it, kiddo. Go to bed.” I stuck my tongue out at him.
We stared at each other for a few moments, wallowing in the silence. It was painful, her just staring at me like that. Scarlett was always the “mom” of the group. Yeah, Ken was the protective over brother, but Scarlett took it to the next level. She was responsible and didn’t want anybody to do anything they weren’t supposed to. I guess it worked out for her, because her son listened to every word she said. I stared at him, chest heaving up and down softly with each breath he took. “What’s like, raising a child?” I asked suddenly.
“Having nerves about being a father?” She asked. “Don’t. Night was a terrible father at first, but he begna to understand.”
“What?” I frowned. “Do you really want to tell me that he’s a horrible father?”
“Was,” Scarlett clarified. “He’s an imaginary friend. He’s meant to play along and mold to the child’s needs. But, Night was forced to grow up and stop being so childish when they came for Alistair the first time. Thats when he became a good parent, because he was more serious and realized that his son’s safety came first. Amelia and Ryder on the other hand are like big children, they don’t have the real world forcing them to make a change and grow up.”
“Who are they?” I asked.
“They are the Queen’s loyal servants, Victoria and Lution. They do whatever she tells them, and Amelia is telling them to eradicate any human threats. Except for Bailey and Ken.”
“What makes them so special?” I asked.
“Bailey is Amelia’s human, so you’d think there was some connection there. But, it’s purely dominance with her. Amelia wants Bailey to be her toy this time around. Bailey is stuck up in the castle. I don’t know any more than that, Night has been making the rounds and checking up on them. I’m not allowed to leave the house. It’s too dangerous. Ken is living with Ryder, but we don’t know much more than that. I think that there is some sort of alliance with Ryder and Amelia. We don’t fit in because, well, they’ve always been jealous of Night. He was the first to come to life and because of that, the others weren’t able to. They probably hate Ethan too, so it’s not safe for him to be here.”
“It was the only way to get here,” I explained. “Pepper is bonded to someone else, and she turned on me anyway and took my children.”
“I’m so sorry,” Scarlett said. “What are you going to do?”
“The best I can,” I muttered. “I need to find them as soon as possible. Time is not something that I have on my side.”
“Don’t do anything stupid,” She said, pulling me into a tight hug. “Something tells me that my little one will be watching you closely. You’re the older brother figure that he’s always wanted. He has no friends Al, he hasn’t gone to school like the other kids or talked to any of them. He’s stuck with me all day, every day. He needs a friend.”
“I can’t be that,” I said. “I don’t want to drag anyone else into my problems. After we get out of here, I’m going to Moonlight Falls. I have to rescue my daughters, save all of Moonlight Falls from two evil vampires and then find Pandora. It’s dangerous, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see you guys again. I want you guys to go back to dad, he needs you more than ever.”
“What about Ethan?” She frowned. “I want to help you.”
“You can’t help me. I don’t want you getting hurt, especially not after I did so much to get to you. You, Night and the kids go to dad. Ethan will come with me and train me. I’m supposed to be the keeper of magic, and watch over all of the mages. Besides, I can’t take the girls away from the people who will know how to take care of them. Humans aren’t the most revered people either, so I don’t see a safe way for you to be there. I need you to be with dad, at least until Ethan can go back.”
“No,” She said firmly. “I’m not saying goodbye. I refuse to believe that I’ll never see you again. Al, I missed you so much. Bailey, Ken and Pandora were always there for me, but you were always the one left out of everything. I wanted you here with me, I missed my bratty little brother. That’s why, I named my son after you. I wanted him to be as courageous, fun loving and cautious as you. You never seemes like you couldn’t handle yourself. I had all of these underlying issues because of my mother, and so did Bailey. Pandora always felt like maybe she didn’t belong, and Ken had the burden of watching all of us. You were the only one free of all the worry, and I admired you for it.”
“Shut up, Scar,” I mumbled. “I was never okay. I just never showed it, but I was never really carefree.”
She laughed. “Nobody ever has zero problems. But you never made it seem like a detriment. Anyway, I should probably let you rest. Think about what I said. We can help, Night can turn into a doll and so can Alistair. They can evade almost any obstacle. Cadence and I will hang back if that’s whats best.”
“Please,” I begged. “Just understand that things will never be the same again. I wish I could just be happy without all of this pain but…”
“We’re Grays,” Scarlett finished. “We don’t let anyone or anything keep us down. Right? That’s what dad always said and Ethan would agree with that. We will all be reunited after this, whether is seems like it or not. We’re a family, and Al…” She looked up at me. “My son needs you, understand that. Be that figure he needs, even if it is only for a couple of days. Think of it as practice for when you raise your girls.”
“I love you Scar,” I said.
“I love you too buddy.”
“I’m glad that we’re alone,” Night said nervously.
“Alistair isn’t going to hurt you, he’s just upset.”
“No, it’s not that.” Night played with the hem of his shirt, looking away from Ethan. “I’ve been surveying the land, and keeping an eye on Bailey and Ken.”
“Well?” Ethan asked anxiously. “How are my kids?”
“Not so well.” He frowned. “I told Scarlett the bare minimum of their issues because I didn’t want her to worry, but if there’s anyone who can help, it’s you. Bailey is under Amelia’s control. Amelia has assumed authority over Imaginationland and everyone has accepted her. They do all of her squabbling. She’s keeping Bailey alive because of some sick obsession, but things aren’t looking good for her or Ken. She is Amelia’s servant. She has to do anything Amelia tells her, no matter what the cost. She has no choice, and Ken, well, he’s trapped. Ryder has him caged up. We have to do something about this, but it won’t be easy.”
“Damn it,” Ethan muttered. “This has been going on for all of this time? My son has been caged up and my daughter is being treated like a slave?”
“Yes,” Night said. “I wanted to stop it, really, but it’s too dangerous to get too close. I have kids now, and Scarlett. I can’t put them in that danger.”
“I understand.” Ethan nodded. “I’m glad that you didn’t. But, Alistair isn’t going to like this. He wants to get home as soon as possible, but it doesn’t seem like it will be that easy. Do you have any suggestions that can help us?”
“Go to Ken first,” Night said. “Amelia is going to be a tough one to crack. get Ryder on your side to take her down. There’s also another force, one that only arrived recently. I can’t be sure, but I feel it in my gut.”
“Actually kid.” I looked at his hopeful face. “I don’t want to put you in any danger.”
“You said you’d protect me,” Alistair said.
“I would have, but if you were awake, you heard it all. Didn’t you? You’re a smart young man. You know that it isn’t easy, or smart to be on my side. I want to save my siblings and get you to safety. I can’t do that to you.”
“The book!” Alistair said, jumping up and down. “The book, the book! I can help you, watch!” He dashed to the corner of his room, tossing books off of the very tidy bookshelf until he found what he was looking for. “I heard everything you said to my mom. Evil vampires, just like the book. The guy’s name is Alistair. That’s you! It has to be!”
I stared at the boy confused. “Give me that,” I said. I flipped the pages, one by one. A young boy, leaving his home amongst humans to live with supernaturals. Fae, witches, vampires, werewolves…he was tasked with taking down the evil vampire ruler who imposed a threat against the freedom of each species. As if that threat wasn’t enough, another powerful vampire arose. As I flipped the pages anxiously, I couldn’t help but think of the stark similiarities. “Where’s the last few pages?” I asked in disbelief. “How does the story end?”
“I don’t know. Mom always told me that Alistair had won. He defeated the evil vampires and everyone lived happily ever after. But, when you were telling your story earlier, I realized that this book is about you!”
“It’s just a coincidence,” I said. “That’s impossible.”
“You said that anything was possible!” He placed the book on his bed. “We need to find the last pages, or the guy who wrote the book. We need to see how the story ends!”
“I need to find my siblings,” I clarified.
“No, we need to save the world! My name is Alistair too. We’re meant to be heroes, like in the story. Maybe when we find aunt Bailey and Uncle Ken, we can look for the pages.”
“Woah, woah woah. I’ve decided that you can’t come along. I’m not taking you with me. It’s too dangerous.” He began to complain and I shot him a stern look. “Your mom will kill me if you get hurt.”
“You need me,” Alistair said. “You said it yourself. I can get you around Imaginationland without a problem, but only if we look for those pages.”
“Go to sleep,” I instructed. “I’m not taking you.”
“Want me to tell your mother?” I asked, watching the boy retreat at my utterance.
“Fine, but you’re making a big mistake.”
“I have a plan, but I don’t think that you’ll like it very much,” Ethan said.
“What is it?” Night asked.
“We use your son as bait. We lure out Victoria and Lution and then I attack,” Ethan explained. “They’ll give us the info that we need to know.”
Night instantly frowned. “Absolutely not. We will not put my son in danger. We can just go to Ryder’s house, I know where it is.”
“As soon as we do that, Amelia will know that we’re here. We can’t just rush into things. We need to think about them, and get as much information as possible. Victoria and Lution know about the queen and we can get information and secure them so that they can’t report back to the queen.”
“I don’t see how that is necessary,” Night said. “We just need to save Ken and then Bailey. You said so yourself that you’re a mage. Can’t you just attack them?”
“According to you, there’s another force lurking near the queen. We don’t know who or what it is. I tried rushing in with my son Alistair and it only got his daughters taken away. We can’t do that here, we have so much to lose. This is not my playing field. I don’t know how my magic will fare and what will and will not work. If Ryder was able to subdue Ken so easily then he must pose a huge threat. If he’s working with the queen, than maybe we just have to expel the bigger threat first. The rest will follow.”
“Let me be the bait, dad.” The men looked up to see Scarlett standing there.
“Baby,” Night said. “I love you. But you’re crazy.”
“My dad is right. We don’t know anything about the threat that lingers here, but we’re afraid of it for a reason. We know that it’s dangerous. We can’t dive head first into something dangerous. Our best bet is to secure information. I’ll lure them out. I won’t put my son in danger.”
“No!” Night cried. “I will not put my wife in danger. Absolutely not, there is no way that I will allow this.”
“You’ve been so kind to me,” Scarlett said to him. “And I’m happy that I brought you to life that day. You tried so hard to get my attention and even when I wasn’t giving it to you, you didn’t leave me. You never gave up on me. You gave me two beautiful children.” She threw her arms over the torso of the now standing figure. “I love you so so much.”
“Don’t leave me, please,” He whispered into her hair. “Don’t leave me. I love you. Please.”
“She won’t get hurt,” Ethan said firmly. “I promise on my life that she won’t. I love you both dearly, and I’ve already been captured by your two little children. I didn’t come here to sacrifice anyone. Scarlett will be fine. If she wants to do it instead of Alistair, let her.”
“See? If dad says it’s okay, then it’s okay.” She smiled sweetly, trying to hide the fear, worry and anxiety behind her eyes. “Don’t worry.”
“Please,” Night said, giving in. “I know that I can’t stop you when you’ve got your head into something, but if anything happens to you, I’ll never forgive Ethan.”
“I don’t expect you to,” Ethan responded. “I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself.”
Scarlett’s house was made by Risastorm on tumblr.