Note: This story has been given an M rating due mostly to strong language.
Text copyright 2013 © P.S. Warner.
Down on the Upside of Desolation
Chapter Twelve: Worn
I jolted awake at the sound of Killian's voice. "Hmm," was all I could manage for the time being. I hadn't slept well.
He shook my shoulder gently. "Time to get up. We've got to hit the road soon."
I pushed myself up and rubbed at my eyes in an attempt to clear my vision. "Kay," I said back through a yawn. "How much time do I have?"
Killian, who was already showered, dressed, and packed, I noticed, glanced down at his watch and then muttered, "Ten minutes," before heading for the door.
Watching him go gave me a weird feeling. I hadn't expected him to wake me up with breakfast in bed or anything stupid and cheesy like that, but I had expected him to say something. To have not been so brusque.
Instead of dwelling on that, I decided to use my ten, probably nine now, minutes to get showered and changed. I could deal with the Killian drama later.
I tossed my bag into the back of the jeep, and I tried not to think about the fact that Killian hadn't said more than two words to me since I'd emerged from the bathroom.
I couldn't tell if he was nervous or just being his usual asshole self, but either way it was really starting to annoy me, despite my efforts to ignore it.
He hopped into the driver's seat and started the engine. When he reached over to turn the radio on, I grabbed his hand before he could. He gave me a curious look.
"Are you going to pay me?"
His brow furrowed. "What?"
"Well, if you're going to treat me like a cheap one-night-stand, I might as well get the benefits that go along with that, don't you think?"
His mouth twisted into an arrogant smile. "I didn't." I narrowed my eyes at him, and he let out a breath of laughter. "I'm not trying to be a dick-"
"Remember how we talked about trying harder? Try harder."
He scrunched up his face as though he were remembering an unpleasant memory of some kind and then said, "Right. Sorry."
"So are you gonna tell me what's going on with you, or are you gonna make me guess?"
"While I am very interested in hearing your theories, I think it will save time if I just tell you." I nodded for him to continue. "Adrian and I haven't spoken in a really long time. The last time we did, she made it pretty clear that it would be just that; the last time."
I offered him a sympathetic smile. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. It was my fault, anyway. I'm just not sure how she's going to handle things when we get there."
"Ahh, yes, speaking of getting there..." I trailed off as I buckled my seat belt. As soon as I looked back up at Killian, he leaned in and pressed a quick kiss to my lips. Had I been prepared for it, I would have game-planned a way to keep him there. I gave him a 'what was that for?' look as soon as he pulled away.
He licked his lips almost nervously and then sighed. "This," he began as he gestured between us, "isn't really my thing. But I'll try to be less of an asshole."
I wasn't sure exactly what he was implying, but I just nodded and accepted it for whatever he had meant it to be. "Okay," I told him simply.
It was kind of adorable how he thought that kissing me was an appropriate way to apologize. I wasn't about to complain.
"Sorry I made you feel like a hooker."
I shrugged. "It happens."
"Wanna play twenty questions?"
Killian shot me a hesitant look. "Not particularly."
While I did understand why Killian might have been reluctant to fill me in on all of the nitty-gritty details of his past, I was also still curious. "It goes both ways," I informed him. "You get to ask me questions, too."
"Maybe I know all I need to know about you," he countered.
Well, that was a possibility. And also, there wasn't much to tell. Until recently, my life had been pretty boring, and Killian had been present when it started getting interesting. Hell, he'd been the reason it had gotten interesting.
I heard him sigh, and I realized that I must have looked more upset than in-thought because I heard him say, "Fine."
He arched his eyebrows. "Unless you've changed your mind."
"No!" I said a little too loudly. "I mean, no, I haven't."
He nodded slowly. "Go ahead, then."
"You want me to go first?" I checked.
Killian's lips twisted into a smile. "Yes," he answered. And then, "Now it's my turn."
My mouth fell open. "You can't be serious," I insisted. "That's so not fair!"
"This game was your idea," he reminded me. "It's not my fault you suck at it."
"Well, I didn't know I was playing against a pro."
"Again, not my fault."
I exhaled as loudly as I could to let him know just how frustrated I was, but he didn't seem to mind at all. "Fine. Your turn."
After a few moments of silence, he asked,"Why did you want to come with me?"
Apparently, he was the dive-right-in type. I had been expecting an easier lead off. Like, "What's your favorite color?" maybe.
I tried to think of a good answer, a noble, well-thought-out response, but I had nothing. So instead I answered honestly, "I didn't have anywhere else to go."
Killian threw me a side-long glance, and for just a moment, I thought he was going to apologize or tell me that he was sorry. But then he simply nodded once and said, "Your turn."
His question had been good, and I wanted to mine to be even better, so I thought about it for a moment first. A dozen or more questions flashed thorough my mind, each one whizzing by more quickly than the other as I decided they weren't good enough.
Finally, I came across one that I thought was worthy enough to be asked. "Why did you letme come with you?" It seemed simple, but I had wanted to know the truth behind it for a long time now.
Killian let out a slow breath and then said, "I guess... partially because I felt responsible for messing up your entire life. Because I knew that I couldn't just walk away and not know what happened to you. And maybe," he paused as though he were debating whether or not to add any more to his answer, but then he said, "maybe because it's nice to have someone to talk to every once and a while."
I couldn't help but smile. "Good answer."
He cleared his throat. "I'm gonna stop and fill up. None game related question, do you want anything?" He asked as he pulled off the road and swung into a gas station.
I shook my head. "No, thank you."
"You sure?" He double-checked before he killed the engine. I nodded. "All right, I'll be right back." He hopped out, and I heard the locks click around me. I made a mental note to ask him why he always locked me in the car.
I looked around at all of the vehicles whizzing by, and I wondered where they were all going. I doubted that any of them were off to hunt down the demon that killed their grandparents. I also doubted that any of them even knew that demons existed.
How lucky they all were, to still be in the dark. Ignorance is bliss, after all. Part of me, a rather large part, wished desperately that I was still like them. That the darkness didn't terrify me, that I wasn't petrified of being left alone.
But I wasn't like them. Dwelling on what I wished my life was like wasn't going to get me anywhere. I needed to remember what I was doing, and where I was going. Thinking about my past life was only going deter me from obtaining the goal I had in front of me.
The locks clicked, and I jumped a little at the sound. Killian slid behind the wheel and placed two cokes in the cup-holders of the center console. "In case you change your mine," he told me when I glanced down at them.
"Hey, why do you always lock me in?" I asked before the question slipped from my mind.
"Uhm, I believe it's my turn," he informed me as he twisted the key and the engine roared to life.
"You can go twice," I offered.
He let out a breathy laugh as we pulled back onto the main road. "It's just a safety precaution."
"What does that mean?"
"There are a lot of people who wouldn't hesitate to go after you to get to me."
"You're asking a lot of questions," he sighed. I simply waited. "Yes, people."
"But you do it everywhere we go." I was still confused. "You have that many enemies? In that many places?"
"The list is long," he admitted.
"I doubt a locked door is going to stop many of your enemies, Killian."
He nodded, allowing that. "True. I guess I'm banking on the fact that they won't want to cause a scene."
"So not only do you have demon enemies, but you also have people enemies."
It wasn't a question, I had just been summarizing, but Killian nodded back at me. "Yep. Kind of comes with the profession, I guess."
We'd been driving for what felt like hours, and I was positive that we'd covered more than twenty question a piece, but we were still at it for lack of anything better to do.
I finally got the nerve to ask a question that had crossed my mind a time or two. "Are Danny and Mark together?"
Kililan frowned over at me. "What do you mean?" When I didn't answer right away, his eyes widened dramatically. "Like... together, together?"
The surprised note in his voice was enough to tell me that no, they were not. Killian was laughing now, and I was beginning to feel a little silly.
"Can I please tell Mark that you thought he was gay?"
I slapped my palm against my forehead. "No," I said a little too defensively. "No you absolutely can not tell him that."
He was still laughing, but he gasped, "Okay." And then, "Okay, I won't."
"Do you promise?"
Killian's laughter slowed, and he arched an eyebrow in that adorable way of his before turning to look over at me. "You don't trust me?" He challenged.
"With my life? Yes. With not humiliating me if given an opportune moment to do so? No." It was the most honest answer I had. Killian must have accepted that as an appropriate response because he just smiled. "Are we almost there?"
"Are you nervous?"
Suddenly, all traces of humor disappeared from his features. His tongue ran out over his bottom lip, and he quietly said, "Yes."
"You know where she lives, right?"
"I know where she lived," he answered with a shrug.
"Well here's hoping that she hasn't moved."
"Fingers crossed," he breathed.
A few minutes later, we were driving slowly through what can only be described as a Stepford neighborhood. There were white picket fences surrounding every yard and perfectly angled trees, benches, and flower beds everywhere. It was almost creepy.
"This is where your sister lives?"
Killian let out a sharp, dry, laugh. "Not what you expected, is it?" I shook my head slowly. "Yeah, it kinda freaks me out." And then, "I think this is it."
We pulled over on the street in front of a little yellow house with white shutters and a red door. It was a cute house, just like all the rest of them.
I had my hand on the door handle before I realized that maybe Killian wouldn't want me to go in with him. "Am I staying or coming with?" I asked hesitantly.
"What would you rather do?"
I considered my options. While going with him would involve having to sit through the awkwardness surrounding his first encounter with his sister in years, not going with him was still less appealing.
"Would you mind if I went with you?"
I thought a saw a glint of relief in his eyes, but he blinked it away before I could be sure. Then he shrugged his shoulders and calmly said, "If that's what you want."
He knocked three times, and then waited not-so-patiently, shifting his weight side to side uncomfortably.
Without really thinking it through, I reached out, took his hand, and gave it a tight squeeze. "It's going to be fine," I told him. He didn't say anything, but he gave my hand a squeeze back, and that was enough for me.
Suddenly, the door opened, and I found myself face-to-face with one of the loveliest girls I had ever seen. She had dark, curly hair, soft, delicate features, and brilliantly blue eyes that were almost as stunning as Killian's. She also had a baby in her arms.
Killian's sister's smile faded away slowly, and she stared at him almost horrifically. He dropped my hand.
"Hello, Adrian." Killian's voice was shaky.
"Leave." Her voice was sharp, and it did not at all match the fragile look she had about her. "Now."
I couldn't help but notice that she seemed to be holding her newborn just a bit closer to her chest as she looked over the two of us. There was a look of pure terror in her eyes, and I felt sorry for her.
"I just need to talk to you."
"No you don't," she shot back. "You wouldn't be here unless you were in trouble or you needed something. And either way, I'm not going to help you. How dare you do this to me," she added harshly.
"Adrian, please," his voice was desperate.
"Who are you?" She asked, turning on me.
I cleared my throat. "Elena Caldwell."
I didn't know how to answer that. Luckily, I didn't have to. Killian jumped back in and said, "If you give me mom's necklace, I swear I will walk away and never-"
"What do you need it for?" There was something about the way she said it that made me think she knew exactly what he needed it for.
"Honey?" A voice came from inside the house. "Who is it?" A tall man with sandy blonde hair appeared from around the door frame.
Adrian shot Killian a dark, warning look, and then turned to the man and said, "Bill, sweetheart, this is my cousin, Killian and his fiance, Elena. They're just passing through and decided to stop by."
I suddenly became aware that I was still wearing the ring Killian had given to me. Adrian was very perceptive, that much was clear to me already. And she had the same quickness that Killian did when it came to fabricating answers.
"Hello," Bill said kindly as he extended a hand out to Killian. "Nice to meet you both. Come on in," he insisted.
Adrian let out a quiet sigh, but she stepped aside and nodded to Killian. I walked directly behind him, and we all followed Bill into the living room.
"Can I get either of you something to drink?" Bill offered.
I shook my head, but Killian said, "Water would be great, thank you."
As soon as Bill disappeared around the corner, Adrian's smile fell. Killian cleared his throat and quietly said, "Congratulations by the way."
"On what, my marriage or my son?" Her voice was acidic. "Because I never heard from you on either."
This time when he spoke, Killian's voice wasn't nearly as pleasant. "I don't recall getting an invitation. Hell, I don't even remember getting a phone call."
"You have no one to blame for that but yourself."
"You walked away from this family, not me."
"You're right," Adrian allowed. "I did walk away. You know how you can tell?" She looked around the room and then down at the sleeping baby she still held so closely in her arms. "What do you need the necklace for, Killian?"
He opened his mouth to speak, but Bill rejoined us, and he quickly snapped it shut again.
"Uhm, Bill, right?" I asked uncomfortably. He smiled down at me and nodded as he handed Killian the glass he held in his hands. "Would you mind terribly showing me where your bathroom is?"
"Not at all," he told me.
"Oh, honey, could you also put Thomas in his crib for me?" Adrian asked him sweetly.
As I tucked myself away in the half-bath that sat just off of the living room, I pressed my ear against the door. Much to my dismay, I discovered that I couldn't hear a damn thing. I didn't know what was happening, or how long it would take, but I decided it would be best if I could give Killian just a few moments alone with his sister.
I counted to a hundred in my head, but just when I had decided it was safe to make my exit, I heard Killian's voice.
"Thank you for this."
"I'm holding you to your word, Kil. If you ever put my family in danger again, I'll make hunting demons look tame."
There was a pause and then, "I won't be back."
My hand was on the door handle then, but before I had turned it even a fraction of an inch, I heard Adrian say, "What's the real story with the girl?"
"It's long," Killian said brusquely.
"I hope to God that you're not just dragging her along with you."
"It's... not quite like that."
"Don't do this to her, Killian. Don't ruin her life like dad ruined ours."
She didn't know what she was talking about. My life was already ruined. If anything, Killian had been trying to help me. And slowly, ever so slowly, he was making things better.
"I won't," he said, and a strange feeling washed over me as the words reached my ear. I wanted, no needed, to know what they meant.
With the lull in the conversation, I decided that it was safe to make my reappearance. I put on my best I didn't hear anything face and then stepped out into the hall.
"Are we ready to go?" I asked Killian.
"Yes," Adrian answered for him.
Bill came jogging down the stairs just then. "Sorry, he woke up just as I was laying him down. I had to rock him back to sleep." He looked around at the three of us and then frowned. "You're not leaving so soon, are you?"
"They've got to be going, I'm afraid," Adrian told him. "They have a plane to catch."
"Oh, where is it you're headed?"
"Florida," Killian answered him calmly. "Sort of a pre-wedding vacation."
"Well I hope you enjoy yourselves. It was nice to meet you, despite the briefness of the visit," he added with a light laugh.
I smiled. "It was nice to meet you, too."
"I'll walk you out," Adrian said, and her eyes burned into mine as I turned to look at her.
When we reached the door, Killian turned to Adrian and said, "Thanks for your help."
"Remember what I said," she told him simply. He nodded once and then headed outside. I moved to follow him, but Adrian grabbed my wrist. "Don't let him pull you in."
"I'm sorry?" I frowned up at her.
"Get out," she whispered, and there was a warning in her voice. "Before it's too late."
"Did you get the necklace?" I asked as soon as we pulled out of Adrian's driveway. Killian nodded, but he didn't say anything. "Are you going to tell me what it's for?"
He was quiet for a moment, but then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a gold chain with a tiny heart-shaped vile attached to the end. "See that heart?" I nodded. "That heart contains a single drop of demons' blood."
Goose bumps suddenly spread down my forearms. "Demons' blood?" I echoed. I wasn't sure whether to be mystified or entirely creeped out. I was a little of both.
"Where did it come from?"
"It was my mother's," he answered quietly. Then, "The blood is said to have come from a demon named Narasimha."
"How did your mother get it?"
"From my father. It's been passed down through my family for generations, each time growing smaller."
I almost didn't want to ask. "Why has it gotten smaller?"
"Remember when you asked me how we came to be? Hunters, I mean."
I nodded. "I asked you for the fairytale version, and you told me there wasn't one."
He nodded back. "Right. Well, I sort of...lied, a little." I waited. "There isn't an exact history on file or anything like that, but there are stories."
"Then tell me a story."
We pulled into a motel parking lot about an hour later. After Killian had paid the man at the front desk, we headed to our room. As soon as he closed the door behind us, I turned on him.
"Tell me." He'd kept me waiting long enough.
He half-smiled and then let out a long sigh. "Sit down."
I did. "Story time."
Killian sat down next to me and began. "Like I said before, there is no exact textbook history about our past. However, it was always rumored that there were twelve original families."
"Hunter families?" I clarified.
"Yes, and according to what my father told me, and what his father told him, and so on, those twelve families banned together to hunt down a single demon that was torturing their village. The demon's name was Narasimha."
"They captured her, but found that they could not kill her. They didn't know how. So instead, each family drew a vile of her blood."
I frowned. "Why?"
"A demon's blood is incredibly valuable, and fairly difficult to obtain. It calls for a specific ritual, one that's been lost over the years. But basically, once you obtain a demon's blood, you can control them."
"Control them how?"
"All it takes to summon them is a single drop, and a couple of select phrases, of course. Once you summon them, you make a trade. Their blood in exchange for a favor."
"What kind of favor?"
"Whatever kind of favor you need. They're bound to you, by blood."
I tried to keep up. "So what happens once you get your favor?"
"Then they get the summoning drop, and they're no longer bound to you."
"How is there any left?" I asked. I couldn't imagine how someone could keep from asking endless favors of a demon. It would be like having a Genie that could grant infinite wishes.
"It will only work once. The Summoner has to have the demon's blood, and already be linked to them."
I had a bad feeling about where this story was going. "Linked how?"
"Supposedly, the first twelve drank from their viles in order to bond themselves to Narasimha."
"They drank demon blood?" That was horrific. Who in their right mind would risk such a thing?
"They did," he answered calmly. "With each new generation of a family, a single Summoner is born. The blood is passed down, and used when it's needed. This," he held up the tiny heart-shaped necklace, "is all that's left of my family's supply."
"And let me guess, you're the Summoner?" Killian nodded slowly. "How do you know?"
"Adrian tried to use it once, when my mom left. It didn't work, and there are only two of us, so..." He shrugged.
"That leaves you," I finished for him. "So one Summoner per generation, one drop of blood per summoning ritual, and one favor per Summoner?"
"So we're going to summon Narasimha?"
"Why?" The demon that killed my grandparents had said his name was Ravanan. I wasn't sure what good summoning a different demon was going to do.
"To help us track down the demon that killed your grandparents, and to tell us how to kill it."
(Dear, Ohsnapitskatie- I'm sorry this took longer than I said it would! )
I know that this is shorter, and I know that the story is just barely getting a little more in-depth and possibly confusing. I also know that I took forever to update! But with the storyline growing more detailed, I had to double, and then triple check my background information. Please don't hate me!
And while you're reading this (and not hating me!) I have a favor to ask of you all... I've started yet another new story. However, this newly started story is complete! It's not all posted due to editing and rewrites, etc. but it is all written. (roughly written, but still written!) So the favor I ask of you is this... please consider checking it out? I'm desperate for some feedback!
That shameless plug being said, I hope you all enjoyed this chapter! Please let me know what you thought? I'll try my very hardest to get this going again. Promise!
Thank you all for reading!