AN: This was written with speech to text. I tried to catch the mistakes, but I apologize in advance if there are any that I missed. Enjoy~
Graciela held her head in her hands. These past few days, her head was in immense pain. Sometimes the pain would subside, but as she recalled things about her family, it resumed. She liked to sit in the garden while she waited for Dionysus to come back and visit her. Someone had to go back and report to Carver. Would the questionable man pick up on what she was doing with Zinnia, Ellery and Adriel? If he did, then what?
Ellery held up an ice-cold lemonade and brought it over to Graciela, breaking her from her thoughts. “How are you feeling today?” The sun pulsed against her skin making her insides burn, but it was a nice sensation.
“Same as usual,” the girl answered with a shrug, avoiding his gaze. There wasn’t much she could do or say at this point. He and Zinnia were awaiting her retrieval of memories quite anxiously. But it had been weeks and the procedure that was supposed to take only a few hours was taking longer for Graciela to piece together. “There’s just too many stories to cover. There’s my grandfather, my great-grandfather, my dad, my mom, my brothers….”
“It may help to try and focus on a select few,” Ellery said. “What was the last thing that you remembered?”
“I saw Callen talking to me about some kind of incantation that he was going to ask his friend to do in order to repel the darkness. Asher said that he used to say those three all the time, so I think that maybe Callen’s friend was Asher. Umm…. Ethan was talking to some guy that he knew from the past. Mom and apparently dad’s son from another dimension were bonding. Grandpa was yelling at me for not paying attention in class. Oh and I’m getting a lot of memories about an ancestor by the name of Lavina Gray.”
“That is a lot to piece together,” Ellery admitted. “But I think if we take it one strand at a time, we can follow the narrative through. Pick someone, anyone.”
“Huh?” Graciela asked.
“If you can focus on one person until their story ends, that’s one puzzle piece out of the way. From what you’re telling me the memories seem very disjointed. You’re jumping from one thing to the next. Instead let’s try to follow one strand all the way through.”
“Even if that works, I’d be doing that for years,” Graciela explained. “There’s just too many important people to my family. So much history…I just want to focus on me and my memories. What happened to me…why am I here today? All of that selfish stuff.”
“It’s not selfish to want to know who you are,” Ellery said with a small smile. “I’d be desperately searching for the answer too if I were in your position too.”
Graciela placed a hand on her heart. “Where is Leon? I…” She bit her lip, wondering if she should tell him about what she had seen in her head. “My friend, Leon. How come I could see him talking to his parents? He isn’t a Gray, so how come I could see his memories like that?”
As the air pushed through her hair, she recalled the look of pain on Leon’s face as he exclaimed to his parents that he was in love with Graciela Gray. It wasn’t his fate that brought them together, but his love for her. What did that all mean? She had only heard one word, love. So, was it not Maric that saved her from lonely nights? Was it Leon all along?
“Oh, it may have something to do with how closely his story is entwined with a Gray’s. Probably yours. Zinnia gave you memories of the Gray history, not their actual memories. So, I imagine you’ll start to see all kinds of perspectives.”
“I’m not actually remembering things though,” Graciela said with a heavy sigh. “Leon…I remember growing up with him and how important he was to me as a child, but this grown up Leon is a stranger to me. He’s proclaiming his love for me in a memory, but it just doesn’t feel real. I just sort of feel like I’m watching a movie, detached.”
“I suppose it was too ambitious to think those memories would trigger yours,” Ellery said. “Don’t worry, we’ll get those feelings back. Maybe we just have to find this Leon guy. Do you know where he would be now? Through your knowledge of him, or the memories implanted into you.”
Graciela shook her head. “See, that’s the thing. As I get closer to the present, the memories, er history- pictures, whatever you want to call them- start to get cloudy. It’s like, nothing but darkness.” A sudden realization grew on Graciela’s face. “Darkness…” She looked down at her chest as if that was where the ominous being rested. “Darkness! Could it be?”
“I would be cautious of conjuring it up. It may not want to leave you alone afterwards,” Ellery said.
“I’m used to it,” Graciela mumbled. “But what if it’s the one blocking the memories? You know, the darkness said it had nothing to do with wiping my memories, but it could be lying.”
“Darkness would lie, sure,” Ellery said. “But there does happen to be a really big dimension changing event that no one really seems to want to tell you about, so really others have motives as well. As badly as I don’t want to side with the darkness, you need to keep all options open. There are a lot of different factors at play now.”
“Then you just tell me,” Graciela said. “I can’t spend the rest of my life chasing the past. I won’t do it.” She shook her head vehemently. “I won’t stop looking for who I am, but I can’t let that consume me. I don’t want to stay locked up here while I try to remember. So, just tell me what I need to know about how the world works now and I’ll keep looking for everyone who has gone missing.”
“I respect your tenacity, but Zinnia and I should really keep an eye on you,” Ellery said. “If those memories come rushing in, it may be overwhelming.”
“That’s what everyone keeps saying but being here is halting both of our progress. I’ve proved that I’m fine, and the more time you spend here with me, the less time you have to investigate the new dimension. I have Dionysus by my side in these new missions. I promise to keep the dimension police as far away from me as possible and I’ll try to help Cassius fill out the new dimension so that we can take it over when he least suspects it. Please, stop keeping secrets from me.”
“It is not my intention to keep things from you,” Ellery said. “Don’t take it that way. We just don’t know everything. And there are a lot of risks that we’re taking. But I will tell you everything that I do know. How’s that sound?”
“Thank you,” Graciela said sincerely. “Leave no details out, okay?”
Kalmali slammed his hand into the strings of the guitar his grandfather had bought for him. “I want to be your hero,” He sung at the top of his lungs. He tilted his head as fast as he could in order to flip his hair.
Alaina let out a small giggle as her cousin leaned forward and sang to her as if she was the only one in the room. “I can be your hero!” Alaina belted out along with Kalmani.
“Woo!” To the side of the two was their aunt, Peyton, who was clapping her hands together. “Go, Kal! Oh yeah!”
Kalmali acted as if he was on the world’s biggest stage and began to play a guitar solo that shocked the two girls. “Heroooooooooo!”
Gone were the soft tones, and in their place wild guitar rifts and raspy vocals. When Kalmali noticed the shocked look on the girls’ faces, he stopped. He looked down at his feet sheepishly. “Er…was that a bit too much?”
“What?” Peyton cried. “No! It was awesome! Keep playing,” She urged him. “I want to hear more.”
“Uh…maybe later?” He mumbled, leaning the expensive guitar against the wall of the almost barren room. “When grandpa and Uncle Tommy are back. Where did they go anyway?”
“Grocery shopping,” Peyton said. “I won’t name any names, but someone drank all of the milk.”
“Kal!” Alaina cried, placing her hands on her hips. “Couldn’t even have my morning coco puffs because of you.”
“I didn’t mean to….” He murmured, eyes darting around the room. “I’m sorry…”
“Stop apologizing,” Peyton said. “For the last time, please. You have nothing to be sorry for, I’m only teasing.” The room grew silent until finally Peyton let out a sigh. “What should we do until they get back?”
“Order a pizza!” Alaina cried. “With ooey gooey chase and super-hot pepperoni….”
“Kal doesn’t like spicy food and you know that,” Peyton said. “Besides your dad said no greasy food, remember?”
“Can I just lay down?” Kalmali asked, interrupting the girls. Peyton frowned. Only when he was singing and playing his guitar, did Kal look truly happy. When he came back to reality, the weight of everything happening fell heavily on his shoulders. “I’m feeling really tired.”
When Kalmali sluggishly dragged his body away, Peyton, the eighteen-year-old designated babysitter for the day, followed closely behind him. “You know it’s not your job to follow me right? Babysitting seven apply to teenager who is almost your age.”
“13 is not almost my age,” Peyton said. Once Peyton took a step back and thought about it, it did seem rather weird that her nephew was closer in age to her than her own sister. But, things are never really ordinary anyway. “Besides, dad said…”
“I know what grandpa must have said, and I try to be very patient with him but…” Kal frowned, sitting onto the bed of his shared bedroom with his uncle Tommy. “He holds onto the leash a little too tightly.”
Peyton chose her next words carefully. “My dad is afraid of losing you too. You have to understand that he lost everyone he loved in the old dimension, and now he’s afraid that it’s going to happen again. Kal, he’s being a bit cautious because he feels like the last time he looked away, the people who he cared most about slipped through his fingers.”
“He isn’t going to lose me,” Kalmali said. “I’m not leaving until my mom comes back. If I’m gone, how will she know where to find me?”
Peyton sat down by her nephew and pushed his hair out of his face. “Graciela has always been very intuitive. I think she’d braved the world and back to find you.”
“Maybe that’s why she’s away then. She’s braving the world,” Kal muttered, shutting his eyes. “I miss her. I miss dad too.”
“Well your dad is just a phone call away,” Peyton said. “We can give him a call pretty easily.” She reached into the pocket of her dress. “Here’s my phone.”
“I don’t want to bother him,” Kal said, pushing Peyton’s hands away. “It’s not the same talking on the phone anyway. Why couldn’t he just stay here with us?”
“Fortitude doesn’t like people like him, Kal. People like me.” Peyton looked down at her lap and let out an angry sigh. “The people here hate humans. What have we done to them? My dad hasn’t hurt anyone. Tommy either.”
“The people here are just dumb,” Kal pointed out. “What does it matter what kind of occult you are?”
“It doesn’t matter, which reminds me!” Peyton flashed her pearly whites. “Adele is stepping down and Fortitude needs a new leader…I want to help people recognize that humans aren’t all bad. But no one is going to take me seriously, so I need someone to run for leader that will take me on as an apprentice.”
“You shouldn’t try to change the people here. They won’t do it. The people of Fortitude have been this way since the dawn of their existence,” Kalmali said.
“What?” Peyton asked, furrowing her brow. “How do you know so much about the people here, Kal? You’ve only lived here a few years…”
Kalmali’s face heated up. “I don’t know, sometimes I just feel like I know things. A lot of things. They just run through my mind…”
“Hmm…we should talk to my dad about that. Maybe grandpa Alistair might know more about it,” Peyton said with a simple shrug. She patted Kalmali’s knee. “Come on, how long do you think Alaina is going to be patently waiting for us?” Peyton kissed his cheek. “Don’t worry about anything. Especially about your mother. Graciela is tough, so’s your dad. They’ll both come back and you guys can be a family together.”
Ransom scrunched his nose up as he looked around the unfamiliar terrain. “This doesn’t look like where we’re supposed to be. Did you type in the wrong coordinates, Accalia?”
“No, this is it,” The pink haired girl replied. “I do not make mistakes. You know that.”
“Then why doesn’t it look like what Brigade told us to be looking for?” Ransom asked. “This just looks like a regular town, where is all the darkness?”
“Things aren’t going to be as we expect them to be, brother,” Rosalind said calmly, reaching up to touch the scar on her face. “The timeline isn’t correct, remember? The world we know isn’t this one.”
“No, it isn’t but Brigade said….” Ransom began.
“Oh, the big brute?” Rosalind cried. “He’s a fighter, not a tactician. We all know that darkness doesn’t always show itself in the most revealing ways. We’ll need to look around for it. Accalia, do you sense any of it?”
“I do indeed,” Accalia said, placing a hand on her heart. “But we must proceed very cautiously. I’m afraid what we have done back home may have made this place volatile. We have done something we may not be able to fix. Darkness vanquished or not.”