“You know you didn’t have to come with me to work out,” Maric said with a smile. “Though, I can’t say I don’t enjoy the support.”
“Well, I wanted to hang out with you,” Graciela said, biting her lip. “I don’t mind if I’m just watching you work out.”
“All sweaty, with my abs glistening huh?” Maric’s eyes twinkled with amusement. “You can just ask me if you want to see them, you know.”
Graciela could feel her face heat up. “Maric, please don’t do that.”
“What? Flirt?” He asked. “I can’t flirt with my girlfriend?”
“You’re making it very hard for me,” Graciela muttered. She shifted her weight, bouncing back and forth on her heels. “I love you. Please remember that.”
“Why does it sound like you’re going to say something very grave?” Maric asked, struggling to catch his breath as he sat up. “What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know how to tell you this,” Graciela all but whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
Graciela leaned against the wall with her hands in her back pockets. She shut her eyes and took in a deep breath. “Maric…”
“Whatever it is, we can work it out together,” Maric assured her. “Please just tell me. I’m here for you.”
“That’s the thing,” Graciela said. “You’re here. But, I won’t be. I will be in Moonlight Falls.”
Maric’s eyes widened. “I’m sorry, what? You’re leaving?”
“Yes. Grandpa has decided to go back to Moonlight Falls because he has some unfinished business, and i have to go back with him to train…” Graciela’s eyes fell to the floor.
“Train for what?” Maric asked.
“I can’t talk about it,” Graciela said. “I won’t drag you into it. My parents and siblings are coming too and Braylen and his dad.”
She took a seat on the excersize machine next to Maric. “You can’t talk me out of this. it’s something I have to do. It’s because of the darkness, and who my family is. I’m a Gray and when I was younger my mother told me that the family’s legacy rested on my shoulders. I can’t let her down. I won’t. She gave up so much for her family that it would be disrespectful to drop the ball now.”
“I understand,” Maric said. “But it doesn’t mean I like it.”
“I don’t like it either,” Graciela said. “I wish you could come with me, but your mother and sister need you.”
“Are you coming back?” Maric asked. “And will there be a way to contact you? Something tells me phone calls won’t be a valid way of communicating anymore.”
“Probably not,” Graciela muttered. “Adele granted us our leave as long as we don’t draw unnecessary attention to you guys. She wants to keep this a supernatural refuge.”
“But, we’ll find a way. Right?” Maric asked. “You’re not just breaking up with me?”
“There is no way,” Graciela said, tears biting her eyes. “I have to go to Moonlight Falls and stop my communication with you and Leon and everyone else here I care about. Even my family for the time being, because not only is it dangerous for you but Moonlight Falls is worse. Last time we were there, there were literal manhunts for us! I got kidnapped. It was the worst.”
“Can’t you train somewhere else?” Maric asked. “Anywhere else?”
“No!” Graciela cried. “My mother trained there and my grandfather and my great grandfather, Ethan. There’s no other way. This is what I need to do. My family has to take back our home. For us and for the people who are suffering there.”
Maric stood up and embraced her in a tight hug. “I’m being insufferable, I’m sorry. I just don’t want to lose you.”
“When I’m able to, I’ll come back. But for now…” She would miss this. Even all sweaty, Maric gave the best hugs. “I’m giving you permission to fall in love with another girl. I won’t ask you to wait for me, that isn’t fair.”
Her mind drifted to Leon whom had done the opposite. He expected her to wait for him. Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard if she had. “I won’t do that,” Maric said. “I love you, not some other girl.”
“You say that now, but if you meet a girl who makes your heart beat speed up and makes you question everything you’ve ever known, you have to keep her. Because who knows what life will bring? Maybe I’m just a stepping stone. Maybe I’m not the one. Maybe I’ll just bring you trouble.”
“I hear everything you’re saying but I won’t move on,” Maric said. “I’m going to wait for you. Because I know you’re the one for me. I just know it. But, if you meet the guy of your dreams, or if Leon comes along and sweeps you off your feet, I won’t be mad either. Do what you have to do, and come back to me to tell me all about your adventures.”
Angel dusted off the bodice of her lace dress. “Unlike the rest of you, Ivy has done her part and is helping us get a foothold in another dimension. Have any of you done something besides glam yourselves up?” Angel glared at Roxana who had ditched her heavy armor for a more modern look.
“It wasn’t by choice,” Roxana mumbled. “Someone thought I needed a new look.”
Frost shrugged. “I jsut figured we could go back to our old ways, each generation gets a guardian. It’s Roxana’s turn and I thought she would integrate better with a new look.”
“We’re not doing that,” Angel said, dismissing the girl’s suggestion. “That hasn’t worked out so well for us in the past. Has it? Levi is gone. Xerxes is gone.”
“But not me and Emit,” Frost pointed out. “Besides, I think branching out passed the Grays is a bad idea. Wasn’t that the original plan?”
“Have you seen what’s been happening around us? Why bother with fixing this dimension’s future when we can just go to another one? Imagine us ruling multiple dimensions. We already have a foothold in our neighboring one. Thanks to Ivy. So, now we shift our perspective a bit. Emit, I want you to get rid of your daughters as time keepers in training. Instead, I would like you to resume your work there. Unseal the timelines that have been blocked off. Step one is rewriting history.”
“And step two?” Zerg asked, looking up from his fingernails. “We change the timelines but how does that transfer over to dimension travel?”
“It’ll make it easier. There are a lot of feathers we can ruffle with control over time. Especially if we can tap into things our so called dimension watcher has sealed off. Emit, see if you can do that. Zerg, I want you to search for more anomalies we can exploit. Roxana, you monitor the Gray girl and Frost, you reach out to more of our contacts. Understood?” Angel asked.
“No need to do that guys,” A familiar sickening voice broke the calm of the assembled group. Angel’s eyes widened as she heard a gun being cocked. “Don’t move, or we’ll shoot.”
“You bastard,” Angel seethed, looking at the man who had been Damian’s lap dog for so long. “And you brought what, a little puppy with you to do your bidding?”
“I prefer unicorn, but whatever,” Katrina spat. She lifted her dual pistols at Roxana and Frost. “You think you’re all high and mighty but you bleed like the rest of us.” Roxana let out an angry growl as if she was ready to pounce. “Nuh uh, little girl. Reign it in. You’re outnumbered.” Behind Declan and Roxana stood a motley of armed men and women. Most of them familiar faces to the guardians.
“What do you want, Declan?” Angel asked. “Damian send you to do something for him?”
“Something like that,” Declan said. “But I’d be lying if I didn’t say this was also a personal visit. I wanted to confirm something. The real reason Emit and Frost created Alistair.”
“So that Apollo and Ethan could have a child,” Frost answered almost immediately. “After all they had been through, they deserved one of their blood.”
“And so that was why you needed to use Altiere’s magic?” Declan asked. “No, something doesn’t add up here. I heard all of your excuses before. Using Altiere’s magic because Alistair was from the future and then that you were teaming up with Altiere to take down the Grays…But you know what? I was willing to accept it before but not anymore. Something doesn’t add up.”
Robin tackled Emit to the ground, throwing the man’s arms behind his back. “Care to explain?” Robin asked. “You heard the man.”
“Why now?” Emit asked. “It really doesn’t matter. Alistair is alive and well.”
“I know that Alistair isn’t a mage. He’s a seer. He didn’t get that from Altiere. All that crap about time distortions being a defect because of Emit’s involvement with a human, and Alistair being imbued with magic because of some kind of plan is just that, crap. Being married to Alistair and then working so closely with Altiere one thing became clear. Alistair doesn’t have any of Altiere’s blood inside of him. In fact, the Altiere we all know is a fake.” Declan remembered his and Adeline’s work for Audric. Being close to Altiere to figure out who he really was.
“Go ahead and tell him,” Angel said begrudgingly. “It changes nothing. It was foolish to think we could have fooled the man who knew both Alistair and Altiere so intimately.”
“Fine…” Emit muttered. “You’re right, Alistair doesn’t have Altiere’s blood. He is fully the son of Ethan and Apollo. His powers are because he is a seer, and anything we told you previously about Altiere and Alistair’s connection were all lies. In fact it’s the opposite. Altiere has Alistair’s genes inside of him. Because as you said, Altiere is a fake. He’s the shell of a man from the past. But if the real man still exists is a mystery to me.”
“So you made this fake Altiere then?” Katrina asked.
“No,” Declan said. “The real Altiere did, right? You’re working for him? That’s why you lied about Alistair and everything else. To cover your asses.”
“He’s a silent contact,” Angel admitted. “Couldn’t tell you where to find him or what he even looks like. But you’re right. Altiere created a fake version of himself based on Alistair’s genes and had us lie to you. I don’t ask why, because it’s good to have a powerful contact.”
“Well I hope for your sake that your powerful contact comes to your rescue,” Declan said. “Gather them up.” Declan motioned for his team to assemble. Hayden stepped forward and kicked Zerg in the chest so hard she could feel his muscles tighten. Katrina held Roxana at gun point while Miles tied up her arms. Sienna held a gun to Frost and let Patrick hand cuff her. Robin took down Emit and cuffed him too. But Angel? Oh, she was getting first class treatment. Declan slipped a needle in her neck, letting her flutter to the floor before lifting her body over his shoulder. “Bring them with us. We need their intel.”
“Those idiots thought we’d just let them operate on their own?” Sienna asked. “They messed with things for too long.”
“Well hey, that plan about opening the timeline wasn’t such a bad idea. You think little old Emit can break something Audric has sealed?” Miles asked.
“One way to find out,” Declan said.
Roxana struggled to break free from the rope tied tightly around her body. “You’re playing a dangerous game! Angel is going to make your life a living hell.”
“I’m so scared.” Declan rolled his eyes. “Trust me. I’ve got more up my sleeve than Angel could imagine. You all operate under me now. So, keep your mouth shut before I shut it for you permanently. As Angel sees, you’re all expendable.”
Declan motioned to Patrick who stood with his arms crossed over his chest. “We’re ready for transport, Dec. Those pathetic bastards didn’t see it coming.”
“Our other target is in our sights?” Declan asked.
“Uh-huh and they won’t see us coming,” Patrick replied with a smirk.
Graciela frowned looking at her house in Fortitude. It certainly wasn’t her first house, but it held special memories for her. She had met her best friend here. She remembered the many sleepovers and play dates she had with Leon. There was still a scratch on the door frame from when Pax dared Leon to do a handstand and he fell backwards, scuffing the wood with his belt buckle. There would be no more letters from Leon. But, she’d still have her family and Braylen. Graciela held her phone in her hand. She had explained everything as well as she could in the message to Leon. She texted Maric letting him know she had still cared about him but urging him to not spend his whole life waiting for her. She couldn’t do that to him.
“Ready to get rid of that?” Jeff asked, placing his hand out. “Your mother and I will get you a new one when we get to Moonlight Falls.”
“Do I have to get rid of it?” Graciela pouted, sticking her lower lip out. “How will I keep in touch with Leon?”
“I’m sure he’ll find a way,” Charlotte said, coming up behind her daughter. “Leon always finds a way.”
“But what about Maric?” Graciela asked. “I won’t be able to text him. Or Harmony!”
“We will be back before you know it,” Charlotte said, stroking Graciela’s hair. “For now, focus on yourself. Make yourself the best that you can be, and then when you come back it will be so much sweeter.”
“Okay. Fine,” Graciela frowned. Her father and mother engulfed her in a tight hug, nearly squeezing the air out of her lungs. “Are you sure I can do this? I’m afraid to go back to Moonlight Falls. What if he’s there?”
“I will kill Declan,” Charlotte answered simply. “Do not be scared. Things will be different now. I know this is hard, but if we don’t do it than who will save the world and stop that darkness within you? I am so very proud of you and I know you can do anything.”
“Sweetie, we love you and won’t let anything happen to you,” Jeff said, placing a kiss on his daughter’s forehead.
AN: For those of you who may have forgotten who these guys are, this is a picture from generation 4. From left to right: Katrina Black, Patrick Black, (By Dandylion240) Hayden Side, Robin Darich (By Phyrcracker93)
Sienna Gage and Miles Forest by me.