(A/N The wait for that chapter was stupidly long, and I apologise, and hope that you're still reading! After the exams are over, in about four weeks time, I should have a lot more to write and update. Again, its unedited, so therefore probably riddled with mistakes, but I didn't want to make you wait even longer for me to edit it. Thanks for reading still, and best of wishes. Nixxie.)Chapter Fifteen
When watching films where people had been forced to walk the plank, or march to the gallows, Rhea had never really understood why they looked so proud; surely they realised that their pride was going to get them nowhere? No matter how gallantly they acted, they were still going to die.
It's funny how the possibility of imminent death snapped everything into perspective. It was now clear to her that those people weren't standing there, head held high, because it was going to change their fate. It was because they were looking death in the face and saying, 'Screw you.'
They were loosing control over life and death, but they could still control how they died.
There was a clear difference between holding up your hands and saying, 'Okay, I'm done for.' and grinning like a madman and saying 'You still haven't won.'
Which was probably the reason that Rhea had squared her shoulders and marched forward, a look of grim determination on her face.
The gang were waiting for them; in a strange circular shape, around the door. Most of them looked eager, but Rhea could spot a few faces that looked concerned, and less than happy. Maybe the gang had more members that weren't happy with the situation than they wanted people to believe?
Maybe there were more like Shade and Reason, willing to risk it all to help a couple of humans?
But more than anything, Rhea was amazed by the sheer number of people in the room. A few looked human, with terrified looks in their eyes. Rhea could only hope that they were sent away before the massacre began.
"You've made a wise choice, young one." Lillian said, her eyes trained intently on Rhea; seemingly ignoring Tyler, who was still stood by her side.
"Not a wise one, just the only one left." Rhea countered, because, in her mind, it was true.
The blonde shrugged her slender shoulders, her eyes blazing- angered by the act of defiance, Rhea guessed. She smiled sweetly at her. Just because Lillian had her in a position of vulnerability, it didn't mean that she was going to roll over and show her belly like a good little puppy.
Rhea didn't work that way.
"So, what's next. You suck our blood and read us the rules?" Tyler said from beside her, Rhea knew that like her he was simply hiding his weakness behind a brave front.
"Not exactly." Lillian said, and motioned for the very guys that had attacked Rhea and Tyler at the care home to come forward; Rhea held up her hand calmly. The guys before her stopped, though she figured it had more to do with surprise at her actions than anything else.
"I have your word that if I go through with this, you'll leave my family alone?" She asked, her eyes searching Lillian's for any trace of a lie as the older woman spoke.
"As long as you follow the rules, yes, your family will be left completely on their own."
Rhea nodded and lowered her hand before saying,
"Then go ahead."
She immediately regretted it when the men- or rather, men-shaped-immortals, split into two teams without warning, and she found herself pinned to the floor as they began to tear at her skin.
What little dignity she had left forced her not to scream, and she took the attack in silence- closing her eyes, barely conscious enough to realise that silent tears were slipping down her face.
She could hear people shouting, and vaguely wondered why.
Wasn't this how it all happened?
Panic began to set in, and she began struggling- aware only of the blistering heat all over her body, and the multiple sets of hands holding her down as her eyes fought to open.
She didn't make it out of their strong grip before the blackness was pulling her under, and the last thing that she heard was a male voice calling her name.
It was quiet when Rhea finally came to herself. A little too quiet, actually. The sort of quiet that meant:
a) she was all alone, or
b) it was night-time.
She was hoping for option b, and was therefore happy when she opened her eyes and found that she wasn't dead, and she was back in her bedroom at the care home- although how she'd gotten there was a completely different matter.
She shifted slightly in her bed, and realised that whoever had brought her here had striped her down to an overly-large T-shirt that she'd never seen before, and her underwear, and blushed slightly. Glancing around, she saw a note taped to the back of her bedroom door- so that anyone coming in wouldn't see it, but it was in plain view for her.
Grabbing her robe she pulled it on before heading over and plucking it off the wooden door to read it, flicking her bed-side lamp on. The handwriting was unfamiliar, but she read it without hesitation anyway- unfolding it quickly, although being careful not to rip it.
Reason here, congratulations on living long enough to read this. Shade and I brought you and Tyler home after your 'initiation' earlier; you should find that you feel fine, better than ever, actually. If not, call me and Shade on our cell phones ASAP- it means trouble.
I was impressed with your 'no screaming' thing, by the way. Way to stick it to those freaks!
Shade said to let you know that he'll be here to pick you up for school in the future- we don't want you walking for a while, or either of you driving for that matter, just in case. Use the weekend to recover, and we expect you to drop by the house, Tyler knows where it is.
Tattoos will be the next stage, FYI.
Don't look forward to it.
Luv ya Chica, Reason xxx'
Rhea couldn't help but laugh at that. Shaking her head with a slight smile on her face, she pulled on some material shorts and left her robe open as she slipped across the hall and into Tyler's room- knocking slightly before entering.
He was grasping a note similar to the one that Rhea had received- sitting on the window sill, he turned to face her and offered her a small grin; she returned it, although there was no humour between them.
"I was just debating whether or not to check if you were alive." He said, his tone slightly bitter.
"Well, sucks for you, I'm still up and kicking." She said, offering what was- this time- a genuine grin as she went to sit opposite him on the window seat- pulling her legs up so that her toes brushed up against Tyler's legs.
There was a long silence, a comfortable one, as both of them simply gazed out of the window as the first of the winter snow began to fall.
"What happened back there?" She asked. "Why were they all yelling?" She wasn't sure that he knew, but she knew that she needed to.
"They attacked you first- made me watch, the other humans too." He said, after a long pause. "You wouldn't believe how much blood there was- it was everywhere. I thought they were killing you. And then they stepped back, and honest to God, Rhea, I thought you were a goner. And then they came for me."
He rubbed his knuckles slightly, although Rhea could tell that he didn't realise that he was doing it.
"You fought them?" She inquired, raising an eyebrow. He nodded, and there was another long pause as he seemed to search for words.
"I promised that I'd never let anyone in." He said, and she could hear the bitterness in his voice once more. "After my parents were killed, and my brother disappeared, I promised myself that I'd never let anyone close enough that their leaving would hurt me. And yet, when I saw you earlier, I was so scared. All I wanted was to get you out of there- to make sure that you were okay."
His eyes remained gazing out of the window, and Rhea knew that what he had just said had been an uncomfortable thing for him to admit.
She did the only thing that she could, she leant over and pulled him into a hug; and for a while, the two of them simply sat there, both of them silently contemplating how good it felt to be alive.