Chapter 54

The light spilled through a crack in the blinds, painting a bright line against closed eyes. Sleep had come easily and it had not gone away for quite some time. The comfortable but simple bed had held him comfortably. There were no binding shackles and nothing restraining the sleeping body and yet it did not move.

"If you place a blessing on the room they won't wake up."

"Brother Noah we must ensure the safety of our staff first. He is a demon and a risk to us all."

"He's wounded and not a threat to anyone. You've essentially put him in a coma!"

"The woman. Have you attended to exorcising her yet?"

"I'm not exorcising her without her consent. Remove the blessing and let me talk with her. She'll explain everything to us and then you'll understand what I'm talking about. You need to know what happened in that facility."

"We secured those working there."

"All of them?"

"You are permitted to wake the woman. We will speak with her and reassess if necessary."

Silence had remained in the room. Injuries were attended to. Burnt limbs were bandaged and cared for. They healed amazingly well without any medication. Deep gashes across the palm healed even faster. Bruises faded over the days. The body was cleaned and dressed in simple linen clothes. The hair was washed and dried and black curls remained splayed over the pillow.

"Do you understand now? He's not a threat. Remove the blessing."

"Brother Noah you have grown too passionate. It's unsightly."

"Release it and he will show you."

Dark eyes finally opened, the light had made itself known through his eyelids. Cole felt like he had slept forever. His body ached but he felt well rested. Calm. His eyes scanned the room briefly. It was a simple room with beige walls and wooden floors. There was a mark above the door along with faded wallpaper that indicated a cross had once been hanging there. It was gone now. He slowly pushed himself up. His arms were sore but not as pained as they should be given how he had been burned yesterday. He looked down at them, bandaged securely.

Had it been yesterday?

He'd slept longer perhaps.

He pushed himself out of the bed and on to wobbly legs. These weren't his clothes and the room wasn't familiar. He wracked his brain for an explanation. The last thing he remembered was Madeleine's sleeping face and Noah's reassurance. His people had been clearing out the hospital. His people. The Order. That explained the mark of the cross above the door. He was likely in their facility now. Panic immediately rose in his throat. They had been the ones who had wanted him exorcised and killed.

He wasn't dead though.

What could that mean?

Swallowing deftly he cautiously approached the door. He tested it with bandaged fingers, pressing down on the handle. It was unlocked and sprang open immediately. Steeling himself with a careful breath he opened the door, poking his head out. No guard and not a single person in the clean hallway. There were marks around the door from where things had been hung but they were all gone now.

"Hello?" he called out carefully. He wasn't sure if he wanted the attention on him but…something was off here. Shouldn't there be tons of people trying to restrain him? He was a demon in the middle of a religious establishment. Yet there was nothing. Almost like…they were trying to let him escape? That didn't make any sense though. Where was Noah? Where was Madeleine? Those had to be his priorities.

Stepping out from the room he tugged the door shut and began to quietly pad down the hall. There was not a single soul in the place and none of the rooms were open. They all seemed to have a charm above the doorknob that made him feel a little queasy to look at. Something holy. He didn't want to risk touching it. He approached the stairs instead, jogging down them on the tips of his toes. There were two ways to go and one seemed to head towards an entrance…the other to the back. Pursing his lips he exhaled slowly. He wasn't leaving until he figured out where Madeleine and Noah were. Turning right down the hall he continued his exploration until he found the glass doors that led to a back garden. They were not protected and he slid them open. The garden was large, full of bushes and trees.

He didn't have any shoes but it was summer time still and the weather was warm. Stepping on to the grass he quietly closed the door behind himself. He didn't know who he was trying to hide from but he wanted to keep quiet. He moved down through the grass, scanning for any sign of life. Then he heard it…the rustle of turning pages to his left. Turning his head with a snap he moved through the bushes, ducking his head under their branches until he came to a tree.

A woman sat on the grass beneath it. She wore the same simple linen clothes. Her beautiful tight black curls full of life on her head. Her ochre skin had warmed under the sun and looked full of vibrancy and life. Her twinkling eyes engrossed in the book on her folded lap. The sight of her, relaxed and comfortable under the speckled shade of the summer tree, took his breath away and made his eyes mist over with joy.

"Madeleine!" he called out, pushing anxiously through the final branches.

Her head snapped up immediately and the book was tossed aside. He didn't know how she moved so fast, perhaps his own focus on her caused him to forget the seconds that passed between that moment and the embrace. The next thing he knew her arms were locked around his shoulders, her light body completely supported by him as he wrapped his own arms around her frame. He held her tight, breathing in the scent of her hair as she pressed her face into his shoulder.

"Cole!" she breathed, repeating his name again and again, "Cole…Cole…oh my god Cole…you're finally awake."

He held on to her tight, just feeling her heart beat against his chest as they pressed tightly together. Finally he lowered her down to the grass and she released his shoulders. "How long was I asleep?" he asked.

"Almost a week," she said, lifting a hand to wipe at her eyes. She lifted her fingers and swiped gently under his eyes in turn, cleaning up the tears he had spilled. "It's almost the end of August."

"What?" Cole asked, checking his wrist but remembering he wasn't wearing a watch or anything else to indicate the time. "It's almost time to go back to school?"

Madeleine nodded, "I've finally been allowed to communicate with the school. We're…really behind on our information but the school was informed that something had happened to us. I'm not sure what The Order told them but it seems we're okay." She shook her head, "There's a lot of mysteries right now and…" She paused, shaking her head, "I'm just glad you're awake."

"Are you okay?" he asked, holding her face in a sign of comfort. "The…serum…did they clear it out of you?"

"No," she shook her head, "They did with Vincent. He's…not dead from what I understand. But I have no idea what they did with him. They offered to exorcise me. Actually…they threatened to. Told me I didn't have a choice. I fought them on it for twelve hours. I made my decision and I'm not going back on it. They finally accepted it but they said I have to remain under observation and if anything goes wrong I won't have a say."

"Observation?" Cole asked in concern.

"Looks like you'll be under the care of The Order." The familiar voice cut through the air and Cole turned to face it, Madeleine smiling at his reaction. Noah stood a few paces away. He was dressed in normal but more formal clothes, a pair of dark pants and a blue button down shirt. He stepped closer, a look of relief on his face. "I'm glad you're awake Cole."

It was Cole's turn this time to run and he did, racing towards Noah and colliding into him with a hug. The other's strong embrace greeted him, holding on to him tightly…safely. "Noah…" he whispered under his breath.

"I'm glad they finally listened to me," Noah whispered back to him. "They interrogated Madeleine for a long time about your character. And the school. And some of your students. But it seems they finally trusted you to wake up."

"I'm just glad to be here…with you," Cole said tearfully as he finally pulled back. Madeleine had neared them and he invited her into the hug with an arm. She giggled as she was tugged in.

"It's going to be tough," Noah chided him, stone faced, "You'll need to talk with them. Madeleine confirmed that there was at least one member of that group that escaped capture. You'll need to convince them that it's safe to let you out in the world and back with your students. I'll need to be around constantly to observe and…report often to make sure The Order continues to trust me. I'm heavily biased after all."

"Who?" Cole asked, looking to Madeleine.

"The scientist…doctor…whoever he was," Madeleine said, tucking herself in close, "The one who developed the serum. They didn't capture him."

"Which means someone who has at least the serum formula is still out there," Noah said with worry.

Cole was silent for a moment. "Let me talk to The Order. I don't need more enemies right now." Noah nodded and moved away. Cole tugged him back in, "But let's stay like this…for just a bit longer. I need this more."

He turned his head away though, looking for the final piece. It took a bit but he finally spotted him, as he knew he'd be here. Jay sat at the edge of the roof, above their heads and far out of reach. He was faded again and when Cole finally spotted him he gave a small wave. He looked both peaceful but also sad. It took a moment before Cole realized why.

Their blood pact was over. In that moment of anguish before Jay had died in his arms Cole had sworn he'd right things. He had in a way. The serum was still out there, along with the formula, but he'd brought the man who'd killed Jay to justice. And moreso than that he'd found people who loved him. He wasn't alone anymore. There were people around him. Cole's wish might have been for justice but Jay's wish had been to see Cole safe and happy…that was achieved. Jay's presence wasn't needed anymore.

Cole smiled sadly, "I'll see you again…" he mouthed in Jay's direction, watching the vision of the man beginning to dissipate in the light.

"When you need me…I'll come," came the soft response and with that Jay was gone. Cole was left with the arms still around him. Sad but not alone.

"He shows affection."

"He does act quite human to be frank."

"Well if the report is correct, Brother Noah stated that his mother was a full blooded human."

"Which leads to ask why a demon would fornicate with a human in this era. Seems out of place. Such an event hasn't been documented in at least 400 years."

"It leads me to believe, Sister, that there is something greater at play."

"Perhaps. And in the case of the doctor that escaped capture. The information in his hands worries me."

"It worries us all."

"It is likely Mr. Douglas is to become a target again."

"So do we keep him confirmed?"

"I do not think that's in our best interest right now. Likely to breed animosity and that could fuel the demon side of him. Joy is likely to breed stability. Perhaps he is a useful ally."

"Brother…a demon as an ally?"

"It is the 21st century. Anything is possible."

"At the very least he will be effective bait."

"Perhaps. We should meet and converse with him."

"I agree."

The school bell chimed.

Another school year was to begin. It had been an eventful summer and starting a new year was also cause for excitement. The boys and girls lined up and filed into the school where they found their classroom. They selected their desks, chatting happily with one another. The bell chimed again and the door to the classroom opened.

In walked their teacher. He was average in height, slender in build. He had wavy black curls on his head that had recently been trimmed. His skin was pale with rose undertones and rounded dark eyes. He moved into the classroom with a smile and dropped some papers at his desk.

"Good morning everyone," he said in a cheerful voice. "I hope you're all excited to start a new year." He strode to the board, grabbing a piece of chalk and scrawling out his name. "My name is Mr. Douglas and I'm going to be your teacher for the next year." He was wearing a long sleeve button down with sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His arms were bandaged from his fingers to his elbows.

"Mr. Douglas!" a girl called, holding her hand high in the air. "What happened to your arms?"

He chuckled, placing down the chalk, "I had a bit of an accident with a fire while camping," he said sheepishly, "But that was a few weeks ago so I'm pretty much all better. Just covering it for a while." He leaned against the board casually, "I'll just say I had a very eventful summer. But I'm here to learn about all of you. So why don't we go around and have everyone give me your name and two great memories from this summer." With that said he scanned the class before picking out a young man at the far left of the class.

As he listened to the students giving their memories Cole attentively made notes. He could not stop the swelling feeling of joy at being where he was meant to be.


{{ That concludes "The Blood". I just want to take a a moment to thank everyone who took the time to read it and support me. I may not be the greatest novelist but it is something I enjoy. I'm so happy to have even a small audience. I'd love to hear if people are interested in reading more as I do have future stories planned for these characters! Once again, thank you for your support! All my love! }}