Author: P. K. Gallagher PM
Kaeden Parish thought he lived in a world that followed certain rules, a world where everything made sense, everything could be planned for, and everything was as it seemed. Unfortunately, it wasn't until after he was dead that he realized he was wrong.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural - Chapters: 6 - Words: 21,635 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 05-29-12 - Published: 04-13-12 - id: 3013181
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Kaeden's mind congealed as he stared; what in the world could she have to do with this? It wasn't exactly hard to dismiss Rhiam as nuts, but Genesis was…well, Genesis. A lot of descriptors came to mind when he thought of her, but psychotic wasn't one of them. Neither was bloodthirsty creature from the netherworld. But then, how else could he explain away the blood? And her sudden appearance. And the firearm. He suddenly found himself wondering why exactly she had never shown him where she lived or introduced him to her family.
He wasn't the only one surprised by the room's occupants, though.
"Fallen," Genesis whispered, voice filled with disbelief. Her gaze flashed briefly to Kaeden's shocked face, and she shook herself, trying to regain control. "Get away from him," she commanded forcefully. To her dismay, though, she knew that there was little she could do against a fallen angel if he decided he wasn't feeling indulgent.
He only chuckled, though, and looked to Kaeden. "Let's finish this later, shall we?" Genesis's eyes flashed to Kaeden again, and the brief distraction was all Rhiam needed. With inhuman swiftness, he sprinted over to a window, a pair of large, iridescent wings bursting from his shoulder blades as he did so. Then, in a single fluid motion, he dove out of the window, shattering the pane. As he vanished into the darkness, his laughing voice called back, "Pleasure meeting you."
Kaeden stood rooted in place, all too aware of what he'd just seen, but not wanting to believe it. So it was true. Either he had somehow wound up a few fries short of a happy meal, or it was all true. He was going to go with the latter. He turned to Genesis.
"Kaeden," she breathed, her tone worried as she ran toward him. He was so bloody. "Are you okay? Did he…hurt…you…" She trailed off as she neared him, really studying him now. There had been an overwhelming feeling of wrongness in the hallway that she hadn't immediately recognized as a Fallen's aura, and when she'd caught the scent of both Kaeden and a vampire, she'd assumed the worst. The fallen angel had been a surprise, but now that he was gone, she realized there was no one else in the condo. The vampire she'd smelled was Kaeden. But…how?
"Kaeden…" She began hesitantly. "What happened to you?"
When he spoke, his voice was hoarse, his tone hollow. "I don't know, Gen," he said. "I really don't. Maybe you could help me clear it up."
"So this is your place, huh?" he asked in what was clearly supposed to be an offhand tone. Genesis didn't like it. It sounded venomous. He was practically snarling at her.
"It's nice. Kind of weird though that you've never had me over before. Why is that?"
"Kaeden, listen," she began, but he cut her off again.
"You know there's something kind of weird in your refrigerator. The red liquid in the pitcher? What is that?" There was no "practically" about it. He was snarling at her, and he knew. Damn.
"It's blood," she said simply. How had this happened? They'd had a deal! There was no way he'd reneged, was there? He couldn't! The council had decided!
Kaeden looked away from her, disgusted. "So it's true then," he spat. "That I'm— That I'm—"
Genesis bit her lip; all this was supposed to be explained before, not after. Surely Hagan wasn't this stupid! Where was he? Was it the fallen angel who'd brought Kaeden here? No doubt, he'd have told him a very skewed version of things. This is wrong, she thought. So wrong. "A vampire?" she finished miserably. "Yes. Yes, you are."
"And you?" he asked, voice thin. Genesis nodded. He turned away sharply, almost as if looking at her repulsed him, and paced the length of the room. Suddenly, he rounded on her. "Did you have anything to do with this?" he demanded. Genesis hesitated, unsure of how to respond. "Answer me!"
"No!" she replied hurriedly, looking at him with eyes that begged him to understand. "Or… maybe. I don't know, Kaeden. It's not supposed to be this way. I'm as confused as you are."
Kaeden let out a harsh laugh that made Genesis flinch. "Oh, I doubt that," he spat. "Because you see, you obviously already knew that things like fallen angels and vampires existed. You knew you were one. All of the above is news to me, Genesis!"
"Kaeden, you've got to believe me," she said. "I had nothing to do with turning you tonight. That was supposed to wait until after you knew enough about it. I don't know how this happened anymore than you do."
"What do you mean, it was supposed to wait?" he asked. "Have you been planning this the whole time?"
"I haven't been planning anything," she said emphatically. "But my hands were tied, Kaeden. They wanted to kill you! This was the most I could get them to yield. But it wasn't supposed to be now."
"Kill me?" Kaeden asked. Was Genesis somehow in league with dryyds who'd been trying to kill him all night? But that didn't make any sense; Genesis was against the dryyds, wasn't she? "Who's 'they'?"
"The rest of the coven," she explained.
Coven, thought Kaeden. Of course.
"They had reason to believe that you were dangerous, that you were going to destroy us. They were adamant that you had to be stopped."
"Destroy?" Kaeden asked, his voice thick with irony and incredulity. "How am I going destroy something I didn't even know existed?"
"I tried to tell them that Kaeden, believe me, I did, but they wouldn't listen. They had evidence, Kaeden, really strong evidence. They were convinced that having your heart stop beating one way or another was the only way to save the coven."
"And you were just going to let them?"
"Kaeden, I had no choice!"
"The hell you didn't! You could have told me, warned me, something!"
"That would have been betraying the coven," she said helplessly.
"Oh, I see." Kaeden drawled the words, stretching them out to inject each one with enough venom to euthanize a horse. "But betraying me is 100% okay. I got you."
"Kaeden, you can't do that," she said, vainly trying to keep the situation from spiraling further. "They're my family. You can't just pit yourself against them and ask me to choose."
"I don't have to," he spat. "You did that on your own."
"I was trying to protect you, dammit!" she cried, frustrated now. He was turning everything she said against her, twisting it completely out of context.
"And let me be the first to tell you that you couldn't have done a suckier job," Kaeden snapped. On some level, he knew he was hurting Genesis, knew he was being unfair in not giving her chance to tell her side of the story, but right then he couldn't bring himself to care. He was too pissed to care. "I am dead, Genesis. I honestly don't think my heart is beating! And this is what you call protection? Are you insane? I'd have done it myself if you'd just told me what you were from the start."
"Please, Kaeden, try to understand the situation we're in," she pleaded. "We're in the middle of a war and can't afford to take chances. If you were somehow an asset to our enemies, could somehow enable them to defeat us, I would've been endangering the entire coven by letting you know anything. There was no 'other way,' Kaeden. It wasn't supposed to be tonight, but it was only a matter of time. If the coven didn't order you killed, and you weren't turned, if you truly weren't working with our enemies, they would have eventually killed you anyway when they finally noticed that you smelled of vampires. They're evil, Kaeden! They hate us and everything we hold dear. They're as strong as we are but have no boundaries, no limits. You have no idea what they're capable of—"
"Don't I?" Kaeden snapped. "Because leaving me in the dark about all the things around me that could kill me was such a brilliant idea, one of those monsters, those dryyds, nearly skewered me today."
"You were attacked?" Somehow, the worry in her voice only made him angrier.
"As if it matters to you. As long as your precious secret and your precious coven are safe—"
"Don't be stupid, Kaeden, you know your wellbeing matters to me more than anything. It's why I've done everything I did. I always worried that something like that might happen: that they'd smell me all over you, all over your house, and think that you were an especially significant human who was needed alive by the vampires. You don't know how much it worried me that they might trace the scent to you and your house, and then torture to death or turn everyone there. Now you're just another vampire and not really a priority. And if dryyds do decide to attack, you can now protect your family. Is that such a bad thing, Kaeden? Protecting the ones you love? Can't you see? That's all I've been trying to do for everyone involved in this, including you."
So that was the reason. That's why the dryyds had been after him. Because of Genesis. "If you knew these things would react this way," he seethed, "why did you come to my house in the first place. How could you allow me to introduce you to my family, putting us all at risk? Why did you get to know me at all? Why?"
"If you'll recall Kaeden, I tried to break it off. I tried to stay away from you, but when you wouldn't let me leave you alone, I gave in." Kaeden did recall that.
He'd met Genesis at the bookstore; she'd been one of the few to browse the reserved section, and everything about her from her looks to the confidence she'd exuded in waves had called to him. He hadn't been able to resist approaching her, no matter how unprofessional it seemed.
"I don't think you're going to find what you're looking for over here," he'd told her when he found her in the reserved section.
She'd taken a while to respond, not acknowledging him until she'd finished her page. When she did look up, her eyes swept over him with blatant deliberateness as if she were sizing him up. He hadn't minded really. The summer after his freshman year, he'd finally hit the growth spurt he'd been waiting for, and running track had trimmed away the last of the baby fat that had been stubbornly clinging to his frame. His wavy red-brown hair hade brushed the nape of his neck back then, and his eyes were of the large, hazel variety that girls seemed to fawn over.
He'd had no indication of whether she liked what she saw, though. Her eyes were oddly veiled; unreadable. Kaeden felt the bizarre and unwanted desire to fall into them.
"Oh?" she'd asked. Her voice had surprised him. She seemed so small to him that he'd been expecting a small voice to match. A soprano, maybe, with an airy laugh. It wasn't, though. Her voice was that of a midrange alto with a smooth melodious quality to it. It evoked images of honey. There had been a slight lilt to it as well that he hadn't been able to decipher then. When he looked back, he realized it had been mocking. "And what might I be looking for?"
"I don't know," Kaeden had replied easily. He reached over and lifted her book slightly so he could see the cover. "But unless you're into Romanian folklore, it's not going to be in there."
"You know Romanian?" He imagined that she'd looked impressed.
He smiled. "That depends. If it will convince you to tell me your name and say yes when I ask you out for coffee, then I'm very familiar with both the Romanian language and literature. If it won't help, but my being reliable and truthful will, then no, I don't. I just process the books and that information is included with the shipment."
She'd laughed at that. "Well honesty is the best policy, they say, but I'm afraid even that's not going to help your case. I'm afraid I'm just not interested."
"Ouch," he said. "I really don't think you should decide so quickly."
"Well you would."
"It's not what you think, though. You say you're not interested, but how can you be sure? It's not like you know me, so it's impossible for you to know if you want to give me the time of day or not."
"Not impossible. I know what you want, after all."
"Of course you do. Your name, remember? And coffee."
She'd given him a baffling look that was between irritation and amusement, then. "I don't drink coffee."
"Neither do I. But no one invites a person out for coffee because they want to drink it. Coffee is just a very casual, noncommittal outing that can be whatever you want it to be and gives you a chance to talk."
She'd looked skeptical. "Talk?"
He couldn't help but smile at that. "Yes. Talk. I know I don't look like much, but I'm capable of that much. Come on, it doesn't have to be coffee. Any time, any place. Your pick. After that you'll at least be well-informed if you say you're not interested."
She'd sighed and given him another one of those looks before smiling in a way he couldn't quite describe. "Fine," she'd said. "When do you get off?"
"Eight." A triumphant expression had lit his face but quickly vanished as he flinched. "Ooh, tonight at eight… This is going to sound bad after saying you could pick the time and place."
She'd smirked, raising a delicate eyebrow. "What's the matter? Have you already got a date for tonight?"
Kaeden smiled indulgently. "Coffee," he said, "is not a date, remember? And that, at any rate, is not my style. No, I have to pick up my little sister from softball conditioning."
"Your sister?" Her tone was something between incredulity and disbelief.
"No, really," he said. "She's really into it, so I give her a ride when she needs one. Let me rephrase: any time and any place except Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 8."
That was the first time Genesis gave Kaeden the look he eventually came to associate with her: that intense searching look, like she'd discovered the history of the world, and it was written in Swahili. "Okay then," she finally said. Her voice had lost the mocking edge and sounded almost bemused, maybe even uncertain. "Tomorrow at seven? Starbucks?"
Kaeden grinned. "Sounds like a plan. But I thought you didn't like coffee?"
She looked away briefly before answering, "Noncommittal, right?"
Kaeden smiled. "Absolutely. Now if only I knew who I was meeting for this completely no strings attached rendezvous …" He looked at her expectantly, and she tilted her head slightly, looking amused.
"Genesis," she said. "Genesis Garrison."
Kaeden had thought the coffee date had gone amazingly well despite a bit of reticence on Gen's part. Afterward, though, Genesis had said that they probably shouldn't see each other again. Kaeden, however, had been fascinated by her and had not been willing to let things drop with a vague farewell and no explanation at all. Still though…
"You should have said something," he repeated stubbornly.
"Christ, Kaeden, you say all this like you'd have actually believed me, and we both know that's not true. You would've tried to have me committed. You'd have freaked out then like you're freaking out now."
"You say it like I don't have a right to be freaked out, Gen," he nearly yelled. "I was attacked twice in one night, I feel like my insides were dipped in acid, I'm apparently not human anymore—"
"They attacked you twice?" Genesis sounded close to panic now, but Kaeden didn't care.
"Just like you expected," he said scathingly. "Really would've been nice if you hadn't withheld that heads-up."
"I'm sorry, Kaeden," she cried. "I really am! I never wanted it to happen this way. Please, just tell me what to do to make it right, and I will."
For some reason, that statement angered Kaeden more than anything she'd previously said. "You want to make it right?" he asked, voice frigid. "Then tell me that you can undo this. Tell me that this was all a joke, or a dream, or something."
"Kaeden, I- I'm sorry, but that's not possible." She wrapped her arms around herself, feeling sick for the first time in years. Kaeden, however, didn't seem to notice the damage he was doing.
"Of course you can't," he barreled on. "You can't change me back, you can't make this right, you can't give me anything I want." He turned to head for the door.
"Kaeden, please," she said imploringly. "Don't do this."
He snapped around to fix her with an icy glare. "Don't do what, Genesis?"
"Don't…" Be angry with me. "Leave," she finished. "It's not safe."
He laughed in that chilling way again. "You know what? I'd rather take my chances out there than spend another minute in here with you."
He tugged up his hood, crossing the room and walking out the door. Genesis didn't follow, though Kaeden knew she could have caught up with him. Giving him space probably. Maybe even giving herself some. He knew he'd hurt her, but he forced himself to ignore the heartbroken look that had started to form on her face at his last statement. He didn't want to feel remorse; he wanted her to grasp the full extent of how livid he truly was. How could she do this to him? Whatever. He was going to get the information for Rhiam, he was going to get that dagger, Cerberus or whatever it was called, and he was going to get out of this place as a human, come hell or high water.