Chapter 24

"The Fight"

Kahiki, Eric, and Winter all stood by each other, watching Tinker.  They had followed him from his house, all of them admitting to feeling like stalkers, and to the park where he was reading a book.  "Ready?" Kahiki asked Eric, who nodded slowly.  He braced himself for getting hurt.  They both glanced at Winter, who nodded.

The two Juniors walked away from their younger friend, away from the shelter of the trees.  Kahiki could feel the palm of her hands sweating.  She was a horrible liar…but she knew that she had to make this be believable.  Eric is your brother, Eric is Kyle, your brother, she repeated over and over again in her head.

"You ready?" he wanted to know.  She glanced up at him.

"As I'll ever be."  Eric sighed, not wanting to get beat up over a necklace, but it was their only chance to get her brother back.  The two walked farther into the park, talking lightly.  They made up conversation about 'Mom' and 'Dad', as if they shared the same ones and Kahiki began feeling like she was playing an imaginary game.  She casually glanced around the park, meeting Tinker's shocked eyes.  Just like she had hoped.

"Eric!" she gasped, loud enough for Tinker to hear.  "That's him!  That's the guy that was in our house!"  Tinker blinked.

"That guy?" Eric asked, quite enjoying the game they were playing.  He hadn't played imaginary games since he was little and forgot how fun it could be at times to pretend he was someone he wasn't.

"Yes, him!  He was at our house!"  She pointed accusingly at Tinker.

Eric approached him.  "What were you doing in my sister's room?"

"…Excuse me?" he said.  "Your sister?"

"Yes, my little sister."  He waved a hand in Kahiki's direction.  "She told me you were in her room with our brother's necklace.  Where did you find it?  How did you get in her room?"

"Look, I don't know how I got there, alright?  I just kinda showed up."

"Don't give me that. You were in Kahiki's room!  What did you do, break in?"  He gave the older teen, who had stood up upon being approached, a small shove.  Tinker stared at him.

"Listen, I didn't-"  Eric gave him another shove, harder this time, playing the role of the protective older brother.  In honesty's sake, it wasn't the first time he had.  Just in the past, it had been real.  "What is your problem?" he demanded, shoving him back.

"You're my problem," Eric snapped.  "Stay away from my sister."

"I don't want anything to do with your precious sister."

"Then what the hell were you doing in our house?" Eric countered.

Tinker snapped back, "I already told you-"

"Don't gimme that shit!"

Kahiki stood in the background, grimacing and biting her lower lip.  Eric shoved Tinker…Tinker shoved Eric...and back again.  She glanced over her shoulder, nodding at Winter, who gave her a small, encouraging smile before disappearing.  Kahiki took a deep breath, looking back over at the two boys, who had begun a fight.

People in the park gathered around curiously, wondering why the two were in a brawl.  The two teens cussed and threw punches at each other, Tinker more so than Eric getting hits in.

The fight seemed to go on for hours before Kahiki finally saw her chance.  She watched as Eric managed to loosen the necklace; watched it fall to the ground.

While Tinker was too concentrated on beating up Eric, Kahiki scampered to the middle of the fight, squirming down by their feet and scooping the necklace up, and scrambling back just before Eric's foot met with her cheek.  She blinked and hurried away from the intentionally-started brawl, running as fast as she could toward the house.

Behind her, she heard Tinker yell.  He discovered the missing necklace.  Shoving Eric away from him, he darted after Kahiki.  "Hey!" he yelled, chasing her through the park.

"No!" Eric protested, running after him.  "Get to the cave!" he called to Kahiki.  She didn't need any encouragement.  Hearing both of them scampering after her, the teenager skid through the trees, taking all the shortcuts she knew; which weren't many.  Praying that Winter was already at the cave with Kyle, she sped into the woods behind her old house.

Kahiki knew the forest better than either of the two boys behind her.  It was where she and Kyle used to play when they were younger.  She could run through these woods backwards with her eyes closed.

She jumped over a felled tree, ducked under another….  There was no way Tinker would be able to catch her.  Grateful that not much had changed from her last real exploration of the property, she skid through a row of trees, the cave that Kyle had showed her coming into view.

She could still hear the two running after her, but they were now a distance behind.  Her run did not slow however, not until she was within the boundary of the cave.

Both Winter and Kyle were standing within the darkness, looking at her expectantly.  "Hold this," she panted, shoving the necklace, which had begun to send an angry warmth up her arm, into Winter's hand.  The younger girl stared fascinated at the gem as Kahiki walked over and examined the side of the cave.

The book had told her that in order to reverse the necklace's damage, she needed to destroy it with a piece of the cave it was made in.  A piece of the cave in which they stood.

"Can…Can I see it?" Kyle asked of Winter, holding his hand out.  She hesitated, not wanting to give it to him.  Meeting his brown eyes, she saw a strange yearning just to hold the gem one last time.  With a small sigh, she relinquished it to him.

Kyle opened his hand, palm up, and looked down at the raindrop-shaped gem that he held.  He tilted his head to the side, running the fingers of his other hand over it slowly, studying it.  The warmth that had been missing for so long danced through his hand and up his arm.  It begged him to put it on, taunted him.

With a shaking hand, Kyle moved to put the chain around his neck.  "No!" Winter gasped, grabbing his arm.

"I just wanna feel it again, once more.  I'll take it right off again, I promise."

She shook her head.  "Kyle, please…you've said so yourself!  It's dangerous."

The necklace was so close to him.  He could feel the heat, the pain, the anger….  "What do you know?" he snarled, yanking his arm away from her.  "Nothing!"  He moved to put the necklace on once again, this time not hesitating as much.

Eric and Tinker skid into the cave at that exact moment, causing Kyle to snap his head up and instinctively have the feeling that he had to protect the necklace.  His necklace.

Tinker was shivering uncontrollably, panic and dread filled him.  She took his necklace, the brat!  His eyes skimmed the cave, landing on Kahiki.  He moved to step toward her, a scowl forming on his face, but a light glow caught his eye.  Tinker spun toward the boy who had his necklace, eyes narrowing.

Tinker told him with an outstretched hand, "That's mine!"

"No, it's mine!" Kyle disagreed.  "I found it, it's mine!  You can't touch it!"

"Kyle, no," Eric told him.  "Give me the necklace."

"No!  You want to keep it for yourself," he accused.  "You can't have it!  No one can!  No one but me!"

"Give me that," Tinker ordered, reaching out and snatching part of the chain, pulling it toward himself.

"No!" he yelled, yanking it back.

Winter moaned, covering her mouth with a hand, guilt plaguing her.  She shouldn't have let Kyle see it.  But he had wanted to so bad….

"Knock it off!" Kahiki gasped.  She dropped the stone that she had managed to weasel from the cave's wall.  Jogging over to where the two were arguing, she pushed Winter gently back.  "Stop it!  Kyle, no, gimme the necklace!  Tinker, stop!"  The two ignored her, arguing over who the necklace belonged to.  Their voices raised and soon the argument began to get violent.

Eric grabbed onto Winter's wrist and pulled her away from the two fighting boys.  She moaned, covering her face and peeking through her fingers.   Kyle couldn't become invisible and scare Tinker because he would have to let go of the necklace.  And Tinker was too obsessed with getting the gem to note the anger in Kyle's eyes.

It was the necklace's doing.  It consumed them both, destroying them.  The necklace was taking over both of their minds.  Desperately, the two fought for the gem in their hands.

Kahiki, determined to destroy the necklace, tried to shove the two away from each other.  "Knock it off!" she begged.  She managed to pry them apart only to get slapped harshly across the face, sending her spiraling backward against the rough floor.

Both boys gasped at the contact, as did Winter and Eric.  The necklace, with their shock, fell forgotten to the ground as they stared at Kahiki.  The blue flashed angrily at being let go of by both.

"You bastard!" Kyle snapped.  "Don't you ever touch my sister!"

"I didn't.  You're the one that shoved her down," Tinker argued.

"I did not!" Kyle disagreed hotly.

Kahiki sat on the floor, rubbing her cheek, stunned.  She glanced down at her palm that was starting to bleed from the rough cave floor.  Kyle knelt down by his once-younger sister, asking her if she was okay.  The necklace, not around anyone's neck, didn't have the same force it once did.  Tinker felt guilt, something hadn't felt for a long time, looking down at her.

"Are you okay?" he asked gently.  She didn't answer, just sat there.

Eric looked to Winter and then moved over and kneeled down beside Kahiki.  "You alright?" he wanted to know, reaching down for her hand to pull her to her feet.

She nodded this time.

Winter watched from the sidelines as all three boys gathered around Kahiki, seeing if she was okay.  She stepped forward to do the same, but stopped herself, seeing the necklace laying forgotten on the floor.  She bit her lower lip.

Adrenaline starting to flow through her veins, she knelt down and scooped the necklace into her hand.  She moved over to where Kahiki had dropped the rock, looking up at the boys.  Scooping the chunk from the cave up, she set the gem down on the floor by her feet, making sure it was against a hard surface.

Kyle glanced over his shoulder.  His eyes grew wide when he saw her hold the rock above her head, prepared to crash it down on the gem.  "No!" he yelled.  But it was too late.

The rock made contact with the gem.  The cave was suddenly illuminated with a bright blue light, temporarily blinding them all.