CHAPTER FOUR

Perry

It wasn't supposed to be me.

I was part of a family of five consisting of my mother Lillian, my father John, little sister Ariel, older brother Soran, and me. It was Soran's job to guard the Blessed. But then the accident happened.

I was seven. Soran was fifteen and Ariel was only two. I should've died with them. My injuries should've killed me. I didn't know why I survived. But I was pretty sure luck had nothing to do with it.

When I woke up alive, I had no illusions. My mind was clear. I knew my family was dead. I also knew that I'd have no sympathetic relatives willing to deal with me. So I was surprised when my father's older sister took me in. She was married but had no children. She fed me, clothed me, educated me, took care of me, but did not love me at all. Yet despite being woken up countless times in the middle of the night due to my screaming, she put up with me for nine long years, until Jordan was eighteen and bought a small place near his college. We'd been best friends since I was three and he was five. During the nine years I lived with my detached aunt, Jordan supported me and loved me like a brother. Because of him, I decided to live instead of joining my family in death. I moved in with him because I didn't want to be burden my aunt anymore but I had nowhere else to go, and I figured I could at least make myself useful living with Jordan.

After the accident, I had nightmares every night. I couldn't get the images of my family's bodies out of my mind. By my eleventh birthday, I was well on my way to becoming an insomniac. I always slept fitfully. Then one night, the angel came.

She looked like a six-year-old girl with a head of golden hair and round blue eyes. She was barefoot, wearing only a simple white dress. There was no halo above her head. She didn't glow. There was no heavenly light. In fact, she looked a lot like what I'd always imagined Ariel would look like at age six. The only clues to her otherworldliness were the two huge, pure white wings that sprouted from her back. I remember having a silly urge to stroke them, just to see if they were as soft as they looked. Then she spoke without opening her mouth.

The voice was that of a full-grown woman, completely at odds with the body she chose to appear in. She said, This is a dream and a message. Take heed: you are now the Guardian of the Blessed. She is a girl of exactly your age, who you must find and protect. She is not far from here.

Why me? I asked, though my lips didn't move.

This was Soran's duty, she replied mournfully. But he is gone now and you must complete his mission because it is now yours.

Now I understood why Soran was always going on "field trips." He was looking for this Blessed girl.

Do not neglect your duty, Paris, the angel who looked like Ariel told me. You will succeed. She began to walk away.

Wait! I called desperately. My family. Are they...? I hesitated to ask. I had never really believed in heaven or God.

The angel turned back to me and smiled. Your family did not deserve what happened. But they are at peace now.

Thank you, I said but she was already gone.

When I woke up the next morning, I remember wondering if divine intervention had saved me so that there would be someone left to be Guardian.

I shake my head out of my memories and refocus on Clover standing before me in shock. I hope she doesn't notice the sudden shininess in my eyes. Thinking about my family always makes me angry and depressed.

I hadn't planned on asking Clover straight-out or telling her anything about anything but it all just slipped out. I can tell she doesn't believe me. But she has to.

"My Guardian?" Clover crosses her arms over her chest and stares at me. "Really?"

"Yes."

"And what are you supposed to do?" She raised an eyebrow.

Patiently, I reply, "I guard you."

Rolling her eyes, she huffed. "Oh, do you. Well, even if I believed you, which I don't, I don't need a Guardian. I can protect myself."

"Why don't you believe me? It's not like I'm claiming to be your long-lost lover or something."

"So? You probably just want to use my luck. That's all anyone ever wants," she mutters bitterly.

"Use your luck?" I repeat incredulously. "For what?"

Clover shrugged. "I dunno. Personal gain. Everyone can use a bit of luck, right?"

I surprise myself with a harsh laugh. "There's nothing I want or need except for you to let me do my job and guard you."

She snorts. "Yeah, right. Everyone wants something, no matter how selfless they are."

"I never said I'm selfless. I only said that there's nothing in this world I want or need."

She opens her mouth to speak but I cut her off. "But you need me."

She bristles. "Need you? Look, I don't even know you. I definitely don't need you."

"But you do. The attack at school this week? There's more to come. You haven't seen anything yet."

"And what would you know about that?" she scoffs. She's starting to get on my nerves.

"A hell of a lot more than you!" I take a deep breath, stamping down my anger. "You saw it, didn't you? The wind sprite?"

Clover doesn't say anything, but her eyes light with revelation.

"Yup, that's what it was. A wind sprite. Very obscure. Generally harmless but loves to break glass. Bet you couldn't figure it out with Google, huh?" I'm taunting her but I can't help it. She irritates me. "You need me. Maybe not my protection, but at least my knowledge. Unfortunately, it's a package deal. I know you're trying to find your mother's murderer. Let me help you."

Her eyes narrow. "How did you know?"

I shrug. "I have my ways."

She glares. I smile disarmingly. "I don't trust you, Clover - "

"Well, I don't trust you either!" she snaps.

" - and I don't tell people things unless I trust them," I continue as if she hasn't spoken. "If you want to know what I know, you'll have to earn it. So first thing's first: drop your pride and admit that you need me."

Out of the corner of my eye, I spot Jordan exiting the ice cream shop, cone in hand. I step away from Clover, who hasn't moved or spoken. Her friends are probably staring.

"See you Monday," I say as I walk away and join Jordan.

Jordan's eyes cut to the fuming Clover as he devours his ice cream.

"You told her, huh?" He raises his eyebrows at me.

"I didn't mean to," I mumble back and start walking home.

My best friend laughs. "Sure. So remind me again why I need your permission to buy ice cream?"

I roll my eyes at the random subject change. "Because I'm in charge of our money."

"And why is that?"

I give Jordan a look. "Because otherwise you'd waste it all on video games. We're not rich, you know."

"But I still haven't found a game that you can't win," he whines with mock resentment, finishing off his waffle cone.

I grin. "And you never will," I assure him modestly.

Jordan is about to retort when a voice calls, "Perry!"

I spin around, hoping that it's Clover coming to tell me that she does, in fact, need me, but it's only Lance Fischer. Still, I'm glad to see him because he was the first guy to approach me at school and ask to be friends.

"Hey, Lance," I greet him. "What's up?"

He notices Jordan next to me. "Don't be rude, Perry. Introduce us!"

Quelling a sigh - both Jordan and Lance are more than capable of introducing themselves - I comply. "Jordan, this is Lance. Lance, this is Jordan."

Jordan sticks out a hand and Lance grasps it firmly. They shake and grin at each other.

I watch this silent exchange bemusedly.

Suddenly they pull out of the handshake and high-five each other with a resounding slap.

"I like this guy!" they declare simultaneously. Then they break into hysterical laughter.

I swipe a hand down my face. Oh man. Now there are two of them.

"So Perry!" Lance finally says. "I'm having a birthday party next Saturday! You're invited so you better be there!" He turns to Jordan. "You should come too! To be honest, Perry doesn't seem like the partying type – not that I am either – so make sure he comes."

Jordan leans closer to Lance and says conspiratorially, "You're right. But we'll be there. What time?"

"I'm right here, guys," I comment wryly.

They ignore me. Lance answers, "Five. Gimme your number so I can text you the address."

I'm bewildered to find my oldest friend and newest friend exchanging numbers minutes after meeting each other. Is this normal?

"What's Perry's number?" Lance asks Jordan. I feel a stir of annoyance. Shouldn't he be asking me that?

"Oh, he doesn't have one," Jordan replies dismissively. "Says he doesn't need one."

"Seriously? Wow." Lance shakes his head. "That's hardcore."

"Can we go home now, Jordan?" I interrupt the conversation, aware that I sound like a whining little kid and not caring. "It's getting dark."

Jordan glances at the sky before saying apologetically, "Sorry, Lance, we gotta go. But we'll be at your party."

"Thanks, man. See you in school, Perry!" Lance waves and runs off.

"So Lance was nice," Jordan observes as we continue home. "Glad to see you're making new friends."

"What about you? I haven't met any of your college friends yet," I mention peevishly, feeling somewhat irritated with him and Lance. What is it with me today? Everything seems to be pissing me off.
I wonder if it's because I'm this close to finishing my heavenly duty but the Blessed herself is stopping me from it.

Why couldn't it have been Anna? I think dully. She's nice and approachable, unlike Clover. This wasn't even my job to begin with. I suddenly find myself slipping into angry-depressed mode. Why did Soran have to die? And Ariel? She was only two! And my parents... I shudder as a barrage of bloody images flood my mind.

"...and you're not listening to me," Jordan says, breaking into my train of thought. "Why ask me a question if you don't want to hear the answer?"

"Sorry," I apologize, my voice slightly rough from trying to hide my emotions. "I was just thinking."

Jordan eyes me knowingly. "It's okay, you know." His voice is soft.

"What?"

"To let out what you feel. You've been through a lot but I don't think I've ever seen you cry about it."

"I don't have any tears," I lie.

"Yes, you do. You're just afraid to let them out."

"Afraid of what?"

"I don't know, Perry." He stares at me. "You tell me."

"You wanna know what I'm afraid of? right now, I'm afraid of not getting home in time to get ten hours of sleep." I deliberately turn away from him and walk more briskly.

Jordan sighs behind me. Catching up to me, he says, "One day, you're gonna burst from all this holding back. And I'm not sure you'll be able to patch yourself up again."

I feel the truth of his words in my soul, but refuse to acknowledge it. There will never be a "one day" if I have anything to say about it.

On Monday, I walk into homeroom feeling empty. I want to laugh at the irony. How can I explode when there's nothing left inside of me?

I fake a brilliant smile at everyone I pass before settling down at my desk next to Anna. She immediately turns to me and greets me cheerfully.

"Hey, Perry!" She smiles excitedly at me. "I heard you and Lance are friends. Are you going to his party on Saturday?"

"Well, of course. This party animal wouldn't miss it for the world," I say sarcastically.

"You're a party animal? Really?" She laughs.

"Is that so hard to believe?"

"Yes."

"You wound me, Anna."

"Good job, Anna, wound him some more."

I look up to see Clover glaring at me as she stands impatiently next to Anna's desk. I smile innocently.

"Hello, Clover. How are you today?"

"Fine, no thanks to you," she snaps at me.

"Clover!" Anna gasps. "Why are you being so rude?"

"I'll explain later," Clover sighs.

"What are you even doing here?"

"Well, I was bored so I thought I'd come talk to you and Holly, but she's not here and I forgot that he sits next to you." She jerks her head in my direction disdainfully. It's amusing how much she dislikes me. All because I suggested that she needs me?

"Oh," Anna says. "Do you know where Holly is? Is she sick?"

Clover shakes her head. "I haven't seen or heard from her. Usually, she'd tell us if she's sick and missing school. Let's go visit her today."

"I hope she's okay," Anna frets.

"Me too," Clover agrees grimly before returning to her desk as the teacher walks in, but she doesn't forget to shoot me an angry look.

I almost burst out laughing.

Mr. West delivers the morning announcements and clears his throat. "We have another new student, who should be joining us shortly. As I said, it's odd to have anyone transfer in the middle of the year, let alone two so remember to treat him respectfully. Ah, here he is."

A tall, muscular guy strolls in lazily, shirt untucked, hands in his pockets. He has sandy blond hair and piercing green eyes. He looks around the room until his gaze lands on someone and he smiles.

I follow his line of sight and freeze when I see that he's staring at Clover. She stiffens, hands clenched into fists on her desk.

"Class, meet Jason Taylor. Welcome to my homeroom, Mr. Taylor. I'm Mr. West." Mr. West smiles warmly at the new kid.

Jason looks at Mr. West, still smiling. "Nice to meet you. Where should I sit?"

"There seems to be an empty seat in the back."

"Do you mind if I switch with someone?"

Uh-oh, I think.

"Why?" Mr. West questions sharply.

Jason shrugs. "I know Clover Smith so I'd like to sit next to her."

A glance at Clover tells me that she does not want to sit next to him. I think she hates him more than she hates me. I wonder what their history is.

Mr. West is silent for a few tense seconds. Finally, he nods. "Very well. Mr. Grey, would you mind sitting in the back?"

"No, sir," squeaks the kid in question. He packs up and is out of his seat in seconds.

Jason slowly walks to the seat and drops down in it. "Hey, Clover. How've you been?"

"Fine," she answers through clenched teeth.

"I hope you're not still mad about what happened. It's in the past, right?"

"Of course." But she's not looking at him.

I don't like Jason Taylor. He has an aura of cunning and apparently he did something to Clover in the past. I may not like her, but I don't want him near her. I can already tell that Jason's going to make my job harder.

For God's sake. Why can't my life ever be simple?


A/N: Finally! I actually had this finished yesterday, but I didn't have time to do a quick edit so I waited till today to post. I hope Perry doesn't sound too extremely girly; I was having serious trouble writing. Not to worry, the next update shouldn't be TOO long now because I've already started it. :D

Hope you liked! Suggestions, anyone?

Thanks to:

Guest (De'Forrest) - Ahaha, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what a Guardian does too. I had an idea but right now it seems hard to incorporate it...we'll see. Ahaha, yes, Anna. Young love. I guess I hvae to make Perry show a romantic interest soon too...

JesusWalkedOnWater - Ahaha, you did? I thought it was a bit eh. But glad you liked it! Ahaha, I always end up wanting to change something but fornow I'm just trying to get the whole thing written. It's only my first draft and I'm definitely going back to edit eventually because I keep finding inconsistencies that I'll have to explain later...

peanuts and paydays - OHEMGEE WHAT. IKR. HAHA. LOL, I already have my villain! ;) But I think you'll be surprised and not surprised at the same time...you'll see! Oh my gawd, C-Dawg. Seriously, what is up with that? You are not a gangster in any sense of the word, weirdo. :P HAHAHA SQUEALS. I CAN IMAGINE YOU SQUEALING. AHAHA. IT'S A FUNNY PICTURE. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah Jordan's the funny, cool best friend. Maybe I should write about him after. Heh. If I ever finish this, lawl. Pey-pey? -_- Really? goodness, p&p I thought you could come up with something better than that. TEEHEE.

Codec264 - Ehehe, thanks! Glad you like my plot cuz it definitely wasn't supposed to be this intricate before...anyways, hopefully I develop it well enough.

Guest (Link's Bromance) - Ahaha, I thought about it, but I didn't want Clover to be a wimp. So yeah. Now she's not a wimp. LOL. Yeah we are obvious. Oh well. SIGH IKR UGH THE CONVO WAS SO AWK but I was like "oh no this person didn't talk yet better make her say something" so it's kinda disjointed...In real life they'd probs all be talking over each other or something. Haha. And yeah, I noticed the dreamily-creamily thing. I changed it on GDocs but not here yet. Someday...

Heyoooo - I believe I know who you are. ;) Anyways, I'm back from vacay so call me! My home phone. Because my cell will not be on. :D LET'S DO STUFF. I still haven't seen Avengers. *cries*

You guys are fantabulous. LOVELOVELOVE~

Write on. Read on. That's my motto.


© Copyright 2012 by The Siege