Chapter Three: My First Lie
"Don't tell him where you're from, Paris," Luc said. Both Gabe and him were leaning up against an oldish truck that had to be Levi's.
"You!" I said, rushing up to them. "It's about time you showed up! What did you do? What happened to me? What am I doing here?"
"We only did what you asked," Gabe answered.
"No. You are not going to pin this on me. I did not ask to be picked up by some wild cannibal in Colorado." I was working myself into a lather. If Helena were here seeing me like this, she would give me that cold look of disapproval that only she could do and bring me back down to the proper level of calm just by saying my name. Thank the gods she wasn't here. I deserved to be this mad this time.
Gabe shrugged, unimpressed with my anger. "Roy's not really a cannibal. If anything, he would have eaten you when he was a bear, and then it's not considered cannibalism."
"What are you talking about?" I said, then waved me hand. "Never mind. I don't care about Roy! What am I doing here?" I punctuated my question with finger jabs into Gabe's pectoral muscle.
"Hey, you asked to be free. It doesn't get more free than the wildernesses of Colorado," Gabe answered, holding his hands up in the classic innocent pose.
"I don't remember asking that," I said.
Gabe's countenance darkened significantly as he growled, "That's because you were nearly dead from that damn Cleansing Room. Hypothermia, dehydration, starvation. You were running the whole gambit."
"Which brings us to our next point," Luc interrupted. "Don't go back there to the people that did that to you."
"Of course I'm going back," I snorted.
"Why?" Luc asked. "They hurt you there. And you always have wondered what it would be like to live away from the Clan. This is your chance."
"I can't stay here," I answered. It was obvious that I couldn't.
"Why not?" Luc asked.
"I'm the perfect being! I've got responsibilities in the Clan."
"They've survived just fine for the past three thousand years without you. The Clan will be fine without you for awhile."
I didn't really have anything to say to that because Luc was right. The Clan did remarkably well without me before my coming. I turned to Gabe to see what he had to say on the subject.
Gabe shrugged. He answered with his head bent to hide his contemptuous glare, "If you tell him where you're from, Pearson will take you back to the Clan."
He stated only the obvious, put no persuasive twist to the truth. Gabe did not want to play this side of the decision. Luc obviously didn't want that either. Their distaste for the Clan wavered my certainty.
"I have to go back! I'm the perfect being!" I repeated to them.
Luc's pupils dilated in his sudden anger. He grabbed my shoulders and lifted me to his level to hiss, "And you actually think the Clan can—"
"Luc!" Gabe barked. Gabe pulled me out of Luc's grasp and set me down.
"What are you talking about, Luc?" I asked, shaken. Luc was angry. He got pissed a lot, even upset, but never angry. My boys were acting stranger and stranger these days.
Luc paced away from the truck, trying to get himself under control.
I looked up at Gabe, confused. "What's he talking about?"
Gabe shook his head, his eyes following his counterpart. "Something he shouldn't be talking about." Gabe bent down to my level suddenly. He looked at me in the upmost seriousness. "Dallas, lie to the sheriff and stay in Specter for awhile. It's a good place, you'll be safe there. Stay for awhile."
"I have to go back," I said again. I couldn't…leave the Clan. I just couldn't. No one could.
"You will go back," Luc said suddenly. "Think of this as a vacation. Everyone comes back from vacations. Moir and Helena will run the Clan while you're here and then you can go back."
"A vacation?" I repeated dumbly. I'd never had one of those. I didn't think that perfection could.
"A vacation would do you good," Gabe said. "And then we can help you get back, no problem."
"But…" I wasn't exactly sure what the 'but' was. A vacation would be nice. Just for awhile. Then I would go back and take over my responsibilities as usual.
"Who are you talking to, Dallas?"
I jumped, surprised to see Levi only a couple feet away from me. "You scared me!" I accused to get him off the topic of me talking to people he couldn't see.
"Don't tell him about the Clan," Luc reiterated before poofing out of existence.
"Or us," Gabe added then followed his counterpart. Duh, I said to him in my head.
Levi smiled softly, sticking his hands in his back pockets again. "Sorry. Are you alright?"
I nodded. Levi motioned to the door. "Why don't you get in and we'll get to the station?"
I nodded again, feeling vaguely like a bobblehead, and got into the truck. It was old, but clean, and when Levi got in it started immediately with a low rumble.
"So tell me about yourself," Levi said.
My heart jumped into my throat. I'd never outright lied to someone before. Omissions of truth and skirting the edges, of course, but never a straight untruth. However, if I wanted to stay here for a vacation then that was exactly what I had to do. Needless to say, I was panicking. "What do you want to know?" I managed to get out.
"Let's start with your name."
I shot him a confused look. "My name is Dallas."
That grin flashed again. "No kidding. What's your last name, Dallas?"
"I don't have one," I answered before I realized that was a probably a stupid answer. Everyone in my books and all of my followers had last names. I was a uniquely perfect entity given directly from the creators of all existence. I did not need a second name to identify myself to others.
"You don't have one?" He repeated, his strong eyebrows raising ever so slightly. "What about your family?"
"I don't have one of those either," I said, then flinched internally. My first real lie. I didn't like this feeling of sickening foreboding that accompanied lying. I only prayed that all of my training hiding my true emotions from Moir and the Clan would come into play now and keep Levi from realizing my untruths.
"Okay," Levi drew out slowly. "Roy said that he found you on the Little River three days ago. Why don't you tell me the last thing that you remember before then?"
My heart rate doubled. Any faster and it was in danger of popping out of my chest. I was so bad at this. What was I going to tell him?
"You are so useless," Luc appeared in the backseat. "Tell him you're hitch-hiking across the country."
"I'm hitch-hiking across the country," I parroted obediently.
Levi looked over at me then, incredulousness apparent across his face. "Alone?"
"Yes," Luc said.
"Yes," I said.
"Why?" Levi asked.
"You fell asleep in a homeless shelter in Denver and when you woke up, you were at Roy's."
"I fell asleep in a homeless shelter in Denver and when I woke up, I was at Roy's."
"St. Mary's," Luc said.
"St. Mary's," I said.
"I don't suppose that place would have a record of you being there, would it?"
"They didn't ask you to sign anything," Luc said.
"They didn't ask me to sign anything," I said.
"That's it?" Levi asked after a moment of silence.
"Let me see if I have this right," Levi said with his brow furrowed. "You're Dallas. You're hitchhiking across the country by yourself when you fall asleep in a homeless shelter…how many days ago?"
"Five," Luc said.
"Five," I said.
"You fell asleep in a homeless shelter five days ago and woke up in Roy's house today. You've got no family, no friends, no last name." Levi looked over at me then. "That's the story you're giving me?"
"Yes," Luc said.
"Yes," I said.
"How old are you?" Levi asked.
"You can tell him your age," Luc told me.
"Twenty two," I answered, glad to finally be telling at least one truth to Levi.
Levi didn't look like he believed me. "You don't look a day over seventeen. Do you have ID?"
"It was in your bag with you at the homeless shelter."
"It was in my bag with me at the homeless shelter."
"Of course it was," Levi sighed. He glanced away from the road to me again. "Are you sure that you're telling me the truth?"
No! I wanted to cry. I'm a liar! Lock me up and throw away the key! Protect all the innocents in the world from my lying mouth!
"Yes, I am," I said aloud. The gods were going to strike me down any moment now.
Levi rubbed a hand over his face. "I'm not entirely sure what it is you want me to do, Dallas. You're over eighteen so you can come and go as you like. You don't have any family for me to find for you. There's a two day discrepancy between when you say you were in Denver to the time Roy found you on the riverbank so it's feasible that someone could have kidnapped you. I can try to find who did that but I'm going to need you to have a full examination at the hospital to see if there's any evidence the kidnapper may have left behind."
"What do you mean 'left behind'?" I asked curiously.
Levi didn't look at me as he said in monotone, "You're a pretty girl. Some pervert may have raped you and left you to die—"
I gasped, horrified. The few instances I had met rape victims were instances that I would never in my life forget. There was no way that I could lie about that. "No, no one…did that…to me. I would know."
"A lot of women think they would—"
"No." I cut him off, imitating Helena's no-questions tone. "I would know."
The truck cab was silent for a long moment while Levi and I both thought our own thoughts.
"Would you know because of your magic?" Levi asked softly.
That was somewhat difficult to answer. I knew nothing untoward had happened to me because Moir and everyone in the Clan was expressly forbidden by the Forn Siðr even thinking of me in such a manner on pain of true death. However, if such a thing were to happen to me, my connection to the life plane would definitely be aware of it. On the life plane, a violation on the physical self as vile as rape could be seen clearly, even decades after it had happened.
So, I explained away to myself, it wasn't really a lie when I said, "Yes."
Levi nodded. "May I ask what your powers are?"
My mind went blank. Of course I couldn't tell him that I didn't contain power like other magical beings, that I was power in the purest, most perfect sense. And I certainly couldn't tell him that I also walked in the life plane parallel to the physical plane that everyone else lived in.
"Tell him you're like Mary Poppins," Luc said.
I had no idea who Mary Poppins was but Luc said it so I went with it. "I'm like Mary Poppins."
"You're a nanny?" Levi asked, his eyebrows raising again.
A nanny? Who was this woman? "No," I drew out slowly, giving Luc time to give me something to say.
"You do a little of everything," Luc said.
"I do a little of everything," I finished.
"Ah," was all Levi said.
I looked over at Levi, curious. I could see from people's life magic if they were more than human, commonly referred to as a magick, but I had never been able to tell exactly what about them made them magick. Roy had very obviously been more; his life magic had pulsated differently and been completely the wrong shape. If I had to guess, it looked like Roy was capable of manipulating his physical self. My mind raced back to Gabe's rather odd bear comment earlier and Levi's referral to him as a big teddy bear. That would make sense…
But Levi's life magic was more subtle. It fit around him like a human's, was the right color, and had the right texture to it but I could feel that there was something else there. Something more.
"You're not human," I told him.
He looked over at me. "Why do you say that?"
I went with the safest route. "You weren't surprised by my magic."
Levi smiled. "Specter is a haven. Everyone here knows about magic."
"A haven?" I repeated.
Levi looked over at me, surprised. "Yeah. A place where humans and magicks know about each other and live together in peace. You've never heard of one?"
I shook my head since I knew I couldn't lie about that now. "But you're not human," I repeated, getting the topic of conversation back to him.
"No," he said. "I'm a witch."
Now who was lying? I knew witches; at least half of the Clan were witches. This guy was not a witch. The life magic of a witch was constantly swirling in upheaval because they pulled from their natural flow of magic when they casted. Still, I was hesitant to call him out on his lie since he had refrained from calling me out on mine.
"Oh," was all I said.
Levi refrained from asking any more questions so I concentrated on the changing scenery around us. Roy lived deep in a dark green forest but we'd traveled far enough that we were getting out of such thick trees and seeing more civilization. A mailbox here, an older car there.
It was five more minutes and then suddenly we were in a town. I'd been expecting something very small and very old, but Specter was much more than that. There was only one main street but it was very clean and bright and the shops that lined the street were all freshly painted with cheery window displays. There were a good amount of people walking around and, though they were all different shapes and sizes, they were clean in both body and spirit. This was a happy place full of people that knew what they had going here and would fight fiercely to keep it that way.
Levi slowed the truck considerably while he drove down the main street, very aptly named Main Street as proclaimed by the ornate stone pillars on the street corners. He nodded to multiple people that waved at him from the sidewalks. Levi was well-liked here. I could understand. He'd calmed me off a wall in a completely strange place and now he was trying to help me despite myself. He was the personification of this town: good.
Levi pulled the truck into an empty spot in front of a stately looking brick building. The wooden sign over the door claimed this to be the Specter Police Station.
The car went uncomfortably silent when Levi turned the engine off. He turned in his seat to look me over. I stifled the urge to fidget in my seat while he assessed my appearance. I knew I was looking less than my best, something I never was allowed to do. It undermined my confidence considerably.
"Dallas, tell me what it is you want me to do for you." He finally said.
"What do you mean?" I managed to stutter out.
"You don't have anyone for me to get in contact with. You don't have a home for me to take you back to. You don't have any identification, money, or personal belongings. What do you want me to do?"
I bit my lip. Of course he was confused. When he laid out the facts like that there was nothing he could do. I had nowhere to stay, no way of acquiring money, I didn't even have a hairbrush to fix my hair with. This was a silly idea.
"No." Gabe snapped from the backseat. "It's not. Don't be such a pansy."
Luc leaned forward. "Tell him that he's right. Thank him for the trouble and tell him that you're going to catch a ride out."
I glanced uncertainly at Luc. I thought he wanted me to stay?
"Do it!" Luc ordered.
I looked back at Levi and parroted Luc out of habit. "You're right. Thanks for everything, Sheriff. I'm just going to find a ride out of here."
"Now get out of the car," Luc said.
I turned to the car door but was stopped before my hand touched the latch.
"Wait," Levi said.
I turned back to him quickly. I didn't really want to leave without Levi. He was the one that had offered to protect me from this place. He didn't know I was the perfect being and he'd still offered. No one did things for me just because of me. It was a new experience and I was just selfish enough to want more of it.
Levi scrubbed his face with his hands again. "Alright, this is what we're going to do," he said. "We are going to fill out an unidentified persons report on you. I've got a place you can stay until we figure out what happened to you and how you got here. Is that good for you?"
"Perfect," Luc and Gabe said at the same time.