Just like Mavis predicted, the caravan was empty. Gypsy had left a key for them, so they were able to get in and lock the door behind them.
"Are you going to call anyone else to do this with us?" Apollo asked, as Mavis began shutting all the blinds over the windows.
"I don't want to put anyone else in danger," Mavis responded, avoiding his eyes. "I'm still not entirely convinced that YOU should be here."
"Well, you'd better convince yourself fast; I'm not going anywhere," Apollo said firmly.
"It could be dangerous," argued Mavis. "Anything could happen. I could accidentally release a malignant ghost or something even worse. I could die attempting to channel Charlie. Anyone ELSE in the room with me could die."
Apollo hesitated for only a split second. "I'm staying with you. I won't let you do this alone."
Though she was VERY scared about what could happen to herself or Apollo or both, part of Mavis was happier that he was here with her. She wasn't sure if she'd be able to work up the nerve to go through with this, and even if she eventually decided to give up, at least Apollo would be here to comfort her.
After moment's pause, before she could stop herself, Mavis blurted out, "Call Kane."
Apollo glanced over at her in surprise. "I thought you said-."
"I know what I said," interrupted Mavis, already wishing she hadn't said anything. "But I want him here with us. Kane and Charlie used to be really close friends in school, so it's only fair for him to get to say goodbye as well."
Apollo raised his eyebrows. "I guess I never thought of it like that. In that case, didn't Charlie have a sister?"
Mavis nodded slowly, wincing. "Dawn. You think I should invite her as well?"
Apollo shrugged thoughtfully. "If you're going by people who need to say goodbye to Charlie, then Dawn should be on the list."
The only reason Mavis was reluctant to call Dawn Alexander was because Dawn had never really approved of Mavis dating her twin brother. And Mavis didn't like Dawn much either; Dawn had seen Mavis being bullied at school but had done nothing about it. So they didn't have a very good relationship.
"I can do it after I call Kane, if you want," Apollo offered, seeing Mavis's face. "Or I can get Kane to do it. Kane knows her better than I do, and something tells me you and Dawn don't have the best relationship."
Mavis inadvertently snorted, dropping her bag slightly aggressively on the sofa. "You got that right."
Apollo pulled his phone out of his pocket, giving a short chuckle. "Okay, well, if there are any preparations you need to make for the channelling, do that now."
Apollo stepped outside to make the phone calls, while Mavis got on with the preparations. She set down the photo of Charlie on the table and gazed at it. This wasn't 100% necessary, but she knew it would help to have his face in front of her while she did this.
As she was doing the last few things to get ready, like clearing away any dangerous items in the vicinity, Apollo poked his head back inside. "They're both coming. I'm going to wait outside for them, okay?"
Mavis immediately felt a dual sense of relief and fear. She was glad that Kane was coming—for some reason, he always seemed to give her strength—but Dawn… There was a lot of bad blood there, on both sides. Mavis wasn't even sure she was okay with seeing Dawn again; after all, the girl had ignored Mavis's traumatic bullying when she could have done something about it. Mavis didn't know if she would ever forgive Dawn for that. Dawn could have saved her life before Charlie had even had to.
"Mavis, you zoned out. Are you okay?"
She let out a deep breath and blinked a few times, focusing her gaze on Apollo. "Yeah."
Apollo eyed her. "Are you sure? Is it Dawn?"
Mavis nodded slowly and didn't verbally reply.
"What happened between you?"
"Well, she knew about my vicious bullying and didn't try to help me, and I told her about the empathy link between me and her brother and she got mad for subjecting her brother to that kind of pain."
Her best friend's eyes widened slightly. "Charlie was on your empathy roster?"
Now it was Mavis's turn to eye her best friend, who looked away quickly to hide his expression, but Mavis caught it anyway.
He… Apollo is jealous…!
She could hardly believe it. She had been trying to save Apollo the pain and inconvenience of being psychically linked with her forever, but clearly that wasn't what Apollo himself wanted. NOW what was Mavis supposed to do?
All she could do at this moment was change the subject. "Maybe Kane will mellow Dawn out a bit."
Apollo didn't respond, which irritated Mavis. "Alright, let's talk about this, then. You're jealous that Charlie was on my empathy roster and you're not, right?"
Apollo's head jerked back up to face her, his mouth opening and closing as he tried to find words to defend himself. Finally, he said, "I know he was your boyfriend so I know why you added him, but I don't understand why you haven't also added me. Sorry if that sounds selfish, but you're my best friend, and I think I'm your best friend as well. And I-."
"Yeah, you are," Mavis interrupted, fiddling with her fingers. "You ARE my best friend, and that's precisely the reason I haven't added you. The process to add someone to the empathy roster is really painful for both of us and I don't want you to have to go through that. Plus…" She hesitated. "It's a burden, Apollo. It really is. Who would want to be linked with someone for the rest of their life, never getting a break from it?"
"Someone who loves their best friend," Apollo replied.
The word "loves" both scared Mavis and sent a warm tingle up her spine. But it didn't change her mind. "You may want that, Apollo, but I don't."
That was the wrong thing to say. Her best friend flinched, a hurt look spreading over his face. "I get it. I guess I don't mean as much to you as you do to me."
"I never said that!" Mavis growled. "You're literally the only person I can talk to about anything, the only person I can fully trust, the only person outside of my family that I care about enough to be willing to sacrifice anything for them, the only person I look forward to being with. You alone pulled me out of the dark place I was in after Charlie died. You alone cared about me enough to sit outside my house all day every day for a week without even catching a glimpse of me, just to make sure I was alright. You alone were my only friend at HASA for years. And you are the only person I would dearly love to have by my side for the rest of my life, empathy-linked or not! But I'm scared, because the last person I added to my roster died, and I felt his pain! I'm terrified that the next person to be added to my roster won't survive the procedure, and I'll be responsible for a DEATH! I DO love you, Apollo! But my fear is and always will be stronger!"
Silence followed this. Mavis squeezed her eyes shut and tipped her head back, not wanting to see the pity and disgust on her best friend's face. She had just admitted that her fear was stronger than her love for her best friend. She didn't deserve him. He didn't deserve THIS.
"Mavis…" came Apollo's soft voice.
"I…I'm sorry, Apollo. You deserve the world, you really do, but…I just can't give you that."
Before she had even finished her sentence, she felt a pair of arms wrap around her and gently pull her into a soft embrace. She gave an involuntary shiver and rested her head on Apollo's chest, relaxing into his arms.
"I don't need the world when I have you, Mavis," Apollo murmured.
That was the sweetest thing anyone had ever said to Mavis, who almost began crying. The only thing she could say to that was a croaked, "Thank you…"
They stayed in this position for a few minutes, before Mavis finally pulled away. She wiped her eyes with her fingers and looked up at Apollo, putting on a brave smile. Apollo smiled back at her. "Ready?" he asked her.
She nodded firmly. "Ready. Let's do this."