Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
The house was always either eerily quiet or in complete chaos. There was very rarely moments that fell in-between. But even when all was quiet, there was tension in the air, thick like a blanket that covered everything.
Caius’ hand caressed the top of Evie’s arm in a soothing motion. Back and forth, back and forth. Her head was bent into the curve on his neck as she sat curled up beside him on the sofa. Robin had claimed one of the armchairs as his own since Alexander had left, and had spent so much time sat in it that Evie was sure he was sinking into his own indentation like the chair was trying to consume him. That was where he sat now with the remote dangled limply in his hand. His brown eyes were wide and vacant on the TV screen, as were Caius’. Evie, on the other hand, was on edge. Constantly on edge. Her eyes flickered across to the chairs every few minutes and she shuffled on the sofa, failing to find a comfortable enough position to feel at ease.
And then it happened.
What always happened when there was a lull.
Something to break it.
The loud shattering sound ricocheted down the stairs and Evie was up on her feet in an instant. Robin spun around and Caius readied himself to stand but Evie turned and pressed a hand on his shoulder, lowering him back down. His pale blue eyes were wide and his brow was pulled up in that beautiful, helpless way of his. She showed him a sad, pinched smile and headed up the stairs alone.
She found Varsee in her bedroom sat on the foot of her bed with her hands in her hair. She was wrapped up in her dressing gown, the one she had been wearing for the past five nights. It was tattered and covered with blood stains from her wiping her eyes on the sleeves. The remnants of a china plate scattered the floor after being hurled against the wall. Evie knew what had happened because it wasn’t the first time.
Once there was no crockery left in the kitchen, Varsee had moved onto the decorative plates, venting her anger by destroying old Mrs. Braverman’s collectables as she screamed and wailed. And when the bursts of rage depleted, what followed was always torture for Evie.
Her Maker was broken. Shattered like the china at her feet.
Evie sank down on the bed and wrapped a comforting arm around her, knowing that no words could soothe her pain. Varsee wailed, a sound that was wet with saliva and broken with tears. She fell against Evie, her head bent and covered with her hands. Tears sprang into Evie’s eyes, staining her vision red as she held her crumbling Maker.
This had all started about an hour after Eric had taken a bloody and convulsing Alexander away.
At first, Varsee had tried to stay strong and collected. The red tear tracks constantly marred her face and she stumbled when she stepped but other than that, she was able to mask her worry and distress with the effortless talent of an Oscar winning actress. Even when Caius had called for Milah to debrief her about the dead blood whore in the kitchen and make sure they wouldn’t get into trouble with Guardian, Varsee had stayed silent, her eyes wide and white knuckles pressed to her lips. Apparently there had been half a dozen other reported deaths of blood whores in the two nights prior, all seemingly not vampire related. Because Varsee had used a knife and had not savagely attacked her, there was no reason for the human authorities to suspect Varsee’s kill to be vampire related, either. The murder was clean cut. Everything could be swept under the rug.
And then it had happened.
Alone in the kitchen, Varsee had collapsed to the tiles as if her bones had suddenly melted to water, with a screech of inexplicable pain. Evie had flown in at the ear-splitting sound that calved her in two. She had found her Maker scrabbling on the floor on her hands and knees, her nails digging into the grooves between the tiles for support as her whole body quaked.
And Evie had felt it too, as if it was an extension of her Maker’s suffering. Like the weaker reverberation at the end of a plucked string. It was the odd sensation of something… snapping. Dislodging. Breaking. Breaking not just from her body but from her being.
Varsee had managed to push herself up into a sitting position and back-crawled her way into the corner of the cabinets. Her blonde hair was a mess over her face as she sobbed into her hands, her eyes huge and glazed over with panic. She was mumbled against her palms, a muffled, constant humming.
Evie had sank onto the floor in front of her and held her by her shoulders, tears of her own blurring her vision. “Varsee, what’s wrong? What’s happened?”
But Varsee just shook her head vehemently and screamed into her hands- a shrill, agonising sound. That was when Caius and Robin had entered the room and had stood frozen in the doorway. A look of dawning realisation had softened Caius’ features as he looked down at his fellow ancient falling apart on the floor.
If Evie had had a heartbeat, it would have crashed against her ribs. The dead blood in her body turned into ice in her veins. She had turned back to Varsee and cupped her face with enough force to dislodge it from her palms. She wailed in Evie’s face as blood ran in streams down her cheeks.
“Varsee, tell me what’s wrong,” said Evie in a calm voice that cracked a little at the end.
“He’s gone!” Varsee cried, sobbing so hard it was making her chest heave forwards.
“Alexander? I know he’s gone but he’ll come back. He will come back.”
“No he won’t! He’s never coming back!” she wailed back and the certainty in her voice made Evie freeze. Varsee stared into her eyes through her matted, bloody hair. The desperate, frantic terror that swirled around her stormy eyes almost made Evie want to pull away. But she didn’t. She kept Varsee’s head supported and smoothed the hair from her face. Varsee gulped hard and lowered her shaking hands to her lap, knotting them tightly together. “He’s dead, Evie. My brother’s dead.”
Then Evie did let go. The force of her Maker’s words felt like a physical blow to the chest. She fell back onto her heels and just stared as Varsee slowly lowered her face back into her palms.
That must have been what Evie had felt.
Alexander’s bond being severed.
And Varsee could pull on that rope as much as she wanted but it was no longer attached to anything.
Alexander was dead.
Varsee’s whimpers made Evie’s throat tighten. As she held her, Caius silently entered the room and dropped to his knees, sweeping up the broken plate with a dustpan and brush. He caught Evie’s eye and looked down to Varsee. His eyebrow and the edge of his lip lifted as if to say how’s she doing? To which Evie just shook her head solemnly, still not good. Caius frowned, dipped his head in a farewell gesture and left the room with the dustpan.
Evie stroked the back of Varsee’s head, a soothing motion that she had seen her do to Alexander.
“I’m so sorry,” Varsee mumbled against Evie’s shoulder, her voice brittle.
“What are you sorry for?” Evie asked, her eyes trained ahead and lips tight to prevent the tears.
“I’ve been a shitty Maker this past week. And you are only a new-born.”
Evie gritted her teeth in anguish. “Don’t worry about me. How can you even think that in a time like this? You take as much time as you need, Varsee. I’m not going anywhere. And seeing you like this only makes me wish I could do something to help.”
Varsee shifted, rubbing her nose with the sleeve of her tattered dressing gown. She was still looking down, her face covered with her mass of hair. “You don’t think I’m weak?”
The question made Evie choke back a sob. “No. Of course not. You’ve lost your brother, I wouldn’t expect you to be acting any differently.”
“I am a strong person, Evie.”
“I know that.”
Now she looked up. She pushed back her blonde hair and the heat of her gaze forced Evie to meet it. Red lines swam under her blue-green irises. Her long lashes were clumped with old, crusted tears. Her look was one of complete surrender, wide and terrified and exhausted. “But this is too much,” she rushed.
“It’s too much, Evie. I can’t lose him. Not him.” Her nostrils suddenly flared and she jerked herself from Evie’s hold, sitting up straight on the bed. “I should have gone with him. I just… I just carted him off like he was nothing.” She gasped, throwing her hands over her mouth. “What must he have thought of me? How could I have let him die alone? After so many years of never being apart. I should have been there.”
“But then you would most likely be dead, too.”
“Yes I would.” She bowed her head in defeat before shaking it rapidly, making her long blonde hair thwack against Evie’s shoulder. “I shouldn’t be thinking that it would be a nicer alternative. No. Because then I would have left you.” Crying out loud, she smacked the heel of her palm against her forehead and curled forwards as if trying to cocoon herself in a protective ball. “I’m such a bad Maker. I shouldn’t be thinking these things.”
“Stop feeling guilty, Varsee.” Evie’s tone came out sharper than she had intended it to. But seeing Varsee beating herself up all through the nights was taking its toll on her. Not because she was her Maker, but because Varsee was her friend. A friend in need. A friend in distress. And she was torturing herself.
To this, she didn’t reply.
Evie smoothed her hand down her back. “You should come downstairs.”
Varsee shook her head.
“You’ve been up here by yourself for hours. Just come downstairs with me. We can get a drink. We’re all missing him, Varsee. You’re not alone in this.”
It was true. They were all missing Alexander dearly. He was a great loss. Without his wit and easy charm, there were no laughs. There was no joy. There was no life.
Robin had hardly spoken a word. When Evie would passed his bedroom door before daybreak, she would hear his muffled sobs as he cried into his pillow. Then she’d see him the next night looking like he was caught in some sort of bereaved trance as he stared at the moving pictures on the TV screen. Evie knew that Caius was trying to be strong for her, and Varsee’s sudden downfall had given them both the perfect opportunity to mend their relationship for good.
Caius wasn’t Evie’s Maker. He was her lover. It had just taken her a while to distinguish between the two and she had taken out her confusion on both him and his new progeny.
But with Alexander gone, it had put everything into perspective and they knew they all needed to stick together. Despite Alexander’s absence seemingly sucking out all of the energy in the farmhouse, leaving the three of them moping around like the actual undead, they were all there. Together. And they were going to stay together.
Evie stood up hesitantly. The faint movement made Varsee head snap up, her eyes wide and pleading. Before her, Evie outstretched her hand with a warm, encouragingly smile. Varsee took it, her body trembling. She stood and her body unfolded slowly as if she were afraid something was going to snap.
The two of them descended the stairs, Varsee’s hand still clinging onto Evie’s like a child in a disorientating crowd. Caius’ and Robin’s head turned when the floorboards in the hallway creaked. They both sent Varsee a supportive smile, to which she reciprocated with obvious effort.
In the kitchen, Varsee relaxed into her usual place by the cabinets while Evie poured them both a drink. She passed her Maker a beaker of blood. The plastic beakers were obviously suited for infants, with their colourful designs of a summer garden – but they were the only things suitable to have in the house in case Varsee had another episode. Evie had gone to the shop whilst on her trip to the hospital for more blood bags.
“Thank you,” said Varsee, her voice nothing more than a whisper as he held the cup close to her chest in a desperate grip as if afraid that, too, was going to leave her. She ran her finger gently around the rim. “The house feels empty without him, don’t you think?”
Evie took a sip of her cup and nodded.
Varsee laughed. It was sad and wistful and clattered in her throat. She gazed out of the window. The night outside was so dark it was like someone had covered the glass in black gel. “He was irritating. Narcissistic. And quite frankly a pain in my arse. But he was my brother and I loved him. For all of that.”
Varsee’s eyes swivelled to her and she showed a gratified smile before bringing the cup to her mouth and drinking. For the first time in four nights.
The silence between them was a comfortable one. Evie relaxed into one of the chairs at the table, keeping Varsee in her eye line as she leaned against the cabinet and took sip after sip of her cup until she rested it, empty, on the countertop.
And then the calm was interrupted.
By a knock at the door.
The knock was a laceration through the thick, hanging silence. Varsee jolted upright. Before Evie even got to her feet, Varsee was a blur, sweeping passed her and knocking her with a gentle gust. When Evie rounded the kitchen doorway, Caius and Robin were also on their feet, poised at the threshold of the hallway. They were watching Varsee warily as she collected herself behind the closed front door.
The second knock made all four of them jump. Even though the sound was quick and friendly – if one could describe a knock as such – it rattled through Evie’s bones and had her holding in an unneeded breath.
She could see her Maker’s shoulders relax from behind as she let out a calming expel of air before gripping the handle. The door swung inwards, obstructing Evie’s view of their company. All she saw was the way Varsee recoiled and closed her hands over her mouth. A sob was muffled against her palms and the noise had Evie crossing the room, the muscles in her back coiling as she readied herself pounce.
But she was stopped. Held back by an arm thrown out across her chest. Caius was looking down at her, his pale eyes steady. Evie furrowed her brows and pushed his arm away, peering around the wall beside him.
Another sob escaped Varsee before she was enveloped by a pair of long bluish-red arms. A body folded into her so perfectly that there wasn’t a hair’s breadth between them. It was as if they were two pieces of a puzzle slotting together. A missing piece finding it’s home.
And that’s exactly what it was.
Varsee’s knees gave way, threatening to pull her to the ground but she was held up by the spine-breakingly strong hug. She sobbed more now, but the sound was one of sheer joy as she buried her face in the long, agile neck of her brother.
“Alex,” she cried against him, her fingers digging into his thin black t-shirt.
Alexander was crying, too. Evie couldn’t see his face as it was covered by his sister’s wild hair but she noted the way his body was undulating and his arms were shaking.
He said nothing. Possibly he couldn’t through the tears. But he held her. Held her like he never wanted to let go.
By Evie’s side, Caius’ expression pinched with confusion. Evie thought back to the first night without Alexander and touched her chest in reflection of the pain she had felt. Alexander’s bond had been severed.
So how was he here?
As if reading her thoughts, Varsee slowly slid her hands from her brother’s back and held him at arm’s length. A cacophony of gasps rang through the house at the sight of Alexander’s face. And the clear tears that ran down his cheeks.
Varsee dabbed her fingertip against the hollow pit under his cheekbone and Alexander winced as if the touch brought him pain. Or shame.
She gazed down at the clear liquid before pressing her flat palm against the centre of his chest. Alexander whimpered, bowing his head to hide his face with his hair. His hair that looked a shade darker and clumped in thick strands due to grease.
Varsee’s free hand balled and covered her mouth.
And then, as if tuning into something she now knew was there, Evie could hear it. A thudding, erratic heartbeat. Alexander’s heartbeat.
Varsee stared at his chest like she was lost in a trance. “I thought you were dead,” she rushed, in a tone that sounded relieved and afraid at the same time.
Alexander’s hand covered hers on his chest, his bluish-red skin covering her lily white flesh. The odd tinge to his skin must have been due to the cold weather. With the door still flung wide open, the breeze caressed Evie’s face and ruffled her hair. But unlike Alexander’s vulnerable human body, the cold was just a tickle.
“Far from it, sis.” Alexander’s voice was hoarse, breaking through a cry.
“What happened to you?” She looked up, her eyes searching his.
“Isn’t it obvious?” His brows lifted, cracking his forehead and upturning his lips ever-so-slightly into a painful smile.
Varsee folded herself into him again and he closed his eyes in bliss at the contact. “You’re so cold,” she whispered. “Let me run you a bath. Get you cleaned up, okay?”
Alexander choked out a sob, and when Varsee released her hold to gaze up at him, he nodded and released a locked tear. “That sounds nice.”
“Okay,” said Varsee softly and took his hand. She led him up the stairs in silence. When they disappeared around the bannister, Evie, Caius and Robin were left dumbfounded and blinking in the waking silence.
“He’s alive,” Evie suddenly gasped, throwing her hands up to cover her gaping mouth. She was laughing, slightly hysterical by the sudden turn of events. “I can’t believe it. He’s alive.”
“More than that,” Robin scratched his ruffled hair, a mixture of emotions were chasing themselves across his young face. “He’s human.”
He slowly staggered backwards and dropped onto the arm of the armchair. Caius was still standing looking up the stairs, his brows drawn. “But this doesn’t make sense. I thought Nico needed your blood to continue with the cure.” His eyes flickered to Evie.
“Clearly that is outdated information,” she replied, hugging herself before shifting again and rubbing her forehead. She couldn’t keep still. This new revelation had her uneasy and restless. She was always so uneasy and restless. She paced across the hallway and shut the door. “What does this mean? Is his cure universal now? Is he going to unleash it onto all vampires?”
“Maybe Varsee could Turn him back,” said Robin, hopeful.
“Even if that is the case, things won’t be the same.”
“What do you mean?” Evie asked Caius.
Caius was watching her from the threshold of the hallway, the old man’s dressing gown hung open over his tall frame. He had even started to wear Mr. Braverman’s checked pyjama pants.
His long dark hair was messy, making it fall over his left eye but even with the obstructed view, the sombre expression on his face was unmistakable.
“If Varsee Turns Alexander back, she will no longer be his sister. He will be her progeny.”
“And your brother,” added Robin.
Evie followed Robin’s lead and leaned back against the sofa for support. She dipped her head, running her hands through her red hair. “This is insane. I mean, I know that Varsee was nowhere near getting over Alexander’s death but we were getting somewhere. And now Nico’s thrown us this curveball. I have no idea where we stand.”
“At least he’s not dead,” mumbled Robin in a low voice as if just to himself. He had his head down, focusing on pushing his thumb in and out of the hole in his jumper cuff.
“We need to focus on the bigger picture here. This goes beyond Alexander,” said Caius. “There’s a cure.”
“There was a cure before,” countered Evie.
“That only worked on you.”
“Maybe this new cure only worked on Alexander.”
Caius’ eyes dropped to the floor, his expression collapsing in on itself. Evie noted the disappointment in the tight line of his mouth.
She picked herself up off the sofa. “You want the cure?”
Robin’s head bounced up, his brown eyes wide on his Maker.
Caius shifted awkwardly, making the dressing gown swish around his calves. “I just… I can’t help remembering what you had said to me after you were cured - when you left me. You wanted someone you could go for picnics in the park with. Have children with. Grown old with. If we both got cured, we could have that.”
Evie was so touched that she felt the hot build-up of tears behind her eyes. “You’d do that for me?”
His head was still bent low. He peered at her self-consciously through his brows. “I’d do anything for you.”
She smiled and the creasing of her eyes let a tear escape. She wiped it away hastily. “It’s a lovely sentiment, Caius. It really is. But that just can’t happen.”
His brow lifted and he tilted his head so she was graced with a view of his beautiful face. “What do you mean? Why not?”
She gestured to Robin. “You have a progeny to take care of. And Guardian on your back. There is no way he would let you, an ancient, become human again. It would be too great a loss for him.”
Robin was peering at Caius, his head hung low and shoulders up like a submissive child expecting a scolding. Caius’ pale blue gaze flickered to him, and he smiled. “It was a lovely sentiment.”
“And plus,” added Evie, to cushion the blow. “I don’t mind being a vampire. In fact I think I prefer it. I was human for like, a week, and I almost died. That taste of morality really made me realise how fragile life is. I mean, I know we’re hated and depicted as ruthless monsters but in fairness, it’s a lot better than worrying for your life every time you step out of the house after dark.”
“See, and people thought it was weird that I wanted to be Turned,” Robin chimed in with an I told you so raise of his eyebrow. “Being a vampire is awesome.”
Caius laughed. Evie’s insides fluttered. She had almost forgotten what it sounded like. Such a warm, gentle, harmonious sound that made her fingertips tingle.
Evie’s gaze spun to Caius, her lids heavy and voice tender. “You’re mine forever, Caius. Eternity is not long enough.”
Caius reached out, his long, muscular arm spanning the distance between them. She took his hand, the touch igniting that tingle into a mighty blaze. In the corner of her eye, she saw Robin roll his eyes and drop back, falling into the armchair with his legs still hooked over the arm.
“Uh, you two had to go and ruin it by going all soppy on me.”
Evie laughed and felt the heat of Caius’ gaze on her cheek. He was smiling at her, an all-encompassing smile that solidified what she had said. Eternity wasn’t long enough.
An hour had passed before the creak of a step interrupted the meditative silence of the living room. Evie, Caius and Robin both looked away from the black screen of the TV and settled their eyes on the staircase. More creaks. Legs were descending. Evie grabbed Caius’ hand and squeezed it when Alexander emerged, followed closely by Varsee.
They both looked so different. In fact, more like the opposite. They both looked like themselves again. Varsee’s hair and face were clear of blood, and she had replaced her tattered dressing gown with a ruby red silk blouse and black pants, making her look like the fierce beauty that she was. Alexander’s blonde hair was back looking effortless styled, half flopping over his face. He had changed from his basic black attire to a green check shirt and black skinny jeans.
He could have almost convinced Evie that nothing had changed. But he had. His face gave it away. Alexander had always had a very pronounced facial structure, with a sharp jaw line and high cheekbones. But now the hollows in his cheeks looked deeper, his cheekbones over hanged them like clifftops over the mouths of two caves.
He had rolled the sleeves of his shirt down to his wrists and Evie was certain that it had been a conscious decision to hide how much he had deteriorated.
And he was still human.
Alexander swung around the bannister post and plonked right into the centre of the hallway, a smile tugging up the corner of his mouth as his eyes swam from one person to the other. His gaze hit Robin last, and his smile fully appeared.
“Did you miss me, kid?” he asked, his voice no longer hoarse and trembling. It exuded confidence now. The kind that was obviously hiding something else.
Robin was on his feet, his arms tense by his sides as his fists curled into his cuffs. “We all did.”
“That doesn’t surprise me. Bet this place was as boring as hell without me.” He crossed over to the living room and threw his arm around Robin. Robin’s eyes bulged and his hands tentatively held onto Alexander’s hips. “Missed you too, kid.”
Robin smiled over Alexander’s shoulder and Evie caught a glimpse of red in his eyes before he blinked and it vanished.
While Alexander was conversing with Robin, Evie casted her attention to Varsee who was leaning against the staircase, arms crossed over her chest and a content smile resting on her lips. Evie could have almost cried. That spooked, haunted look in her eyes had disappeared. The tremble in her fingers and the wobble in her steps, gone.
Varsee was back.
Evie crossed the room and stood at her side. “What do you know?” she asked close to her ear.
“What do you mean?” asked Varsee, twisting her head slightly in acknowledgement but keeping her gaze glued on her brother.
“About what happened while he was gone. Did he say anything else to you?”
Varsee’s expression pinched and she massaged her throat as if she were suddenly finding it hard to swallow. “No,” she rasped. “He didn’t speak. Not really. He was silent while we bathed. He just stared at the bath water as if he’d never seen it before. He spoke briefly when we were dressing, but just light small talk. I didn’t ask him anything. Didn’t want to pressure him.” Her eyes quickly flicked to Evie, making sure she was still there.
“Do you mind if I ask?”
“I think that would be best. I don’t really know what to say,” Varsee admitted.
Evie lay a comforting hand on her Maker’s back before stepping into the centre of the room, in full view of everyone. Caius, who had been watching Alexander and Robin, turned and looked to her expectantly.
Evie cleared her throat, catching everyone else’s attention. Alexander looked over his shoulder, found her looking at him, and spun around fully. His easy smile fell when he saw her concerned expression.
“Alexander,” Evie started, her voice wavering a little. She cleared her throat. “We’re all very pleased to have you back but your sudden appearance has raised a lot of questions.”
Alexander noticeably shifted closer to Robin like he was trying to use him as a shield.
“If you’re not up to answering them right now, that’s fine. We understand.”
Suddenly, Alexander straightened his back and looked at Evie sharply straight in the eyes. “It’s fine. Ask whatever you want.”
Evie cleared her throat again. It felt like the room was closing in on her. She could feel the pressure pressing down on her ears, enclosing her. She almost felt suffocated by it, if that was even possible for a vampire.
“What happened with Nico? I know you were cured but… how? Start from the beginning.”
“The beginning…” Alexander swiped a hand down his face and dropped onto the arm of the armchair beside Robin. After ruffling his hair several times with his eyes downcast, he expelled a breath and continued. “The blood whore infected me with some sort of virus. Completely harmless to humans but deadly to vampires… I guess Nico created it so that the infected vampires would want the cure. Brings them to him instead of him having to do the hard work.”
“So you still have the virus?” asked Varsee, stepping into Evie’s eye line.
Alexander nodded, his head still bowed. “So don’t bite me.”
“Then you can’t Turn back?” asked Varsee.
Alexander nodded again.
A minute gasp escaped his sister’s lips before she pressed them into a thin line, obviously caging a sob.
Alexander’s eyes flicked up and hit her. “You didn’t run into any problems by killing the blood whore, did you?”
She shook her head. “No, apparently there were several unexpected deaths of blood whores. The Court are looking into it.”
“No need. I know it was Nico’s men. He had them killed so they didn’t spread the virus further. He needed to make sure it was successful first.”
“Well it was, right? You’re cured. It was successful.”
“More or less, yeah.” The tone of his voice suggested there was doubt.
Varsee caught it and stepped closer, her head tilted with curiosity. “More or less? What do you mean by that?”
Alexander shrugged, his bottom lip squished between his fingers. He was clearly uncomfortable with the path this conversation was going down. “There were… um… side effects. It affected us all differently.”
“All?” It was Caius who spoke. “How many is all?”
Alexander kept his gaze on the carpet. “Fourteen.” His eyes squeezed shut. “I mean thirteen. Thirteen escaped.”
“Escaped?” This time Robin spoke, suddenly looking alert. “What do you mean escaped? He didn’t let you go?”
“He wasn’t going to let us go.” Alexander’s voice was sombre. “He said he was going to when he fixed us but there was no way. We can’t be fixed. We were going to spend the rest of our lives in there.”
Varsee was now sitting beside him, her arm wrapped around the small of his back. Alexander didn’t move at the contact.
“How did you escape?” asked Varsee. Evie’s next question would have been about what he meant by having to be ‘fixed’. But she kept quiet, following Varsee’s lead.
“It was stupid really. I don’t really know how it worked. But it did. I got them out, sis.” He turned his face slightly towards her, smiling through the curtain of his hair. “I did it. I got them out.”
Varsee smiled back, her gaze fluttering over his face.
“And Nico?” said Robin. “What happened to him? Is he dead?”
“I don’t know,” replied Alexander, looking to him. “Maybe. Hopefully. But I can’t be certain.”
Robin’s brows furrowed. “What do you mean? How can you not be certain?”
“That’s enough questions,” said Varsee, hugging her brother protectively. Alexander’s body wilted like a dying flower, turning slightly into his sister’s hold. “We can’t all just pile on him at once.” She smoothed his hair down so she could see his face. His blue eyes were wide and set on her lap. He looked like he had completely shut down. Like the lights were on but there was no one home. So… detached from himself.
The sight made a chill pass through Evie.
Varsee lowered her lips to his ear and whispered softly, “Let me take you to bed.”
Evie waited for his deadpan expression to split into a mischievous grin, accompanied by some sort of smutty reply, and found herself without when all that followed was a numb nod of his head.
Varsee took his hand and escorted him back up the stairs.
“I’m sorry I let you come back down. I should have just sent you straight to bed. You’ve clearly been through a lot,” she was saying before they disappeared.
Again, Caius, Evie, and Robin were left standing looking at each other.
“I don’t like it,” said Robin. “Something happened. Something that he doesn’t want to tell us about.”
Evie was thinking the exact same thing and when she looked to Caius, she could tell he thought it, too.
“Well, I can’t begin to guess,” admitted Evie.
“You were cured, right? You spent time with this Nico person. Surely you could think of something.”
Evie shook her head. “He’s… a hard person to understand. I barely scratched the surface. But whatever he’s done… he seems to think that he needs to fix it. That doesn’t sound good.”
“And if he’s dead. He won’t be able to,” said Caius.
Robin sank into the armchair with a look of grim defeat. “I don’t like this. I don’t like it one bit.”