I don’t even remember getting out of my chair or even leaving the library. All I knew was that the three of us followed Mr. Parker all the way to the dorms.
Jax glanced at me, silently asking if it was alright for him to go in since we were only allowed into the dorms we occupied. I shrugged, it was an emergency, I didn’t see why not. As we made our way through my dorm, my heart began beating faster. We passed the first floor and went all the way to the third floor. All the students of my floor were standing outside in different states of undress. I looked back at Jax and he was walking while looking up at the ceiling. I resisted a chuckle. By room 308, Sam was standing, still in his jeans and a green shirt, he also looked like he had just rolled out of bed. He yawned, and waved slightly at us.
I knew who was taken even before I fully reached Sam. It was Holly Painter. She was a Valkyrie, a bright and cheery female from my English class. In the olden days, the Valkyrie were the warrior women who served Odin on the battlefield. They decided whether or not the dead would go to Valhalla or not. Since her ancestors were around death so much, she had an affinity for knowing when someone was going to die. They called it Odin’s curse. She was also one of the girls that worked with Jax in the library.
Sam folded his arms across his chest and stared into the disheveled room. Jax stood next to him his gaze looking around the room, his nose flaring slightly as he tested the room with his other senses. Mr. Parker was standing in the middle of the room, his gaze flittering around the room at an amazing rate.
Holly’s clothes were scattered everywhere just like Ethan’s had been. The window was open, the breeze blowing the curtains inward. All of the items on her desk were pushed to the floor, her book case toppled over and the books open. This time though, there were no paw prints that I could see. There was a faint presence of a different Tama in the air. I knew what Holly’s felt like, but I just wanted to make sure. I looked over at Jax.
“What does Holly’s power smell like to you?”
“It has the smell of old fashioned bubblegum.”
“And the room now. What does it smell like?” Jax took in a deep breath through his nose, his nostrils flaring slightly. He made a disgusted face and wrinkled his nose.
“Burning cookies. Sweet but acrid.” That’s what I had felt in the room, I thought to myself. It was a darkness that hung in the air but held rage and despair. There was the undertones of Holly, she had tried to defend herself. Unlike in Ethan’s room, this time, there was blood on the floor and along her desk. Juni beside me, gasped, I looked over at her and her eyes faded of color.
“Crap,” I muttered. I grabbed her as her knees crumpled beneath her. Sam and Jax were by my side in an instant. Her eyes fluttered as the vision took hold of her mind. I grabbed her hand instinctively as I had when all of her visions hit her. I felt some of my power flow into her, then, I wasn’t me any longer, everything fell away.
Smoke drifted into the wind, the end of his cigarette bud glowing red with each intake. His beady black eyes scanned across her body, taking in each curve of her skin through her nightgown. Her eye was bleeding, cuts decorated her skin, blood seeping into the cotton. Slowly he took his cigarette between his index and middle finger. His teeth were yellow when he smiled, chuckling to himself quietly.
“Finally, we got her. Nergal will be so pleased.”
“Watch out for her, the boss says the drugs will wear off soon.”
“I don’t like the look in her eyes.” The men looked at each other, there was a hollering outside, one of the men opened the door and a large man came raging in. His hair was a fiery red, the tips a bright yellow, they looked like flames in the lighting. His eyes were a deep red, the same shade as his hair. Scars decorated his face, scowling he looked at the girl before him. She was lithe, her hair a light brown and her eyes a wide light blue. The new man growled and turned to the two behind him.
“She’s the wrong one, you idiots!” He roared the words, power flowing from him. The two men shrank back from him.
“But she was on the third floor like our intel said.”
“This is not Janus’s offspring!” Fire bloomed from his grasp. “I need that one, and no one else! Now, go find them!”
My eyes shot open, the smell of cleaning supplies sharp in the air. I was in a bed, the blanket wrapped around my body as if I had been tossing around. Around me a white curtain shielded me from the rest of the room. There was a small bedside table, lamp and a rolling chair. I was in the nurse’s room. I could hear the sound of voices around me. I tried to focus on them.
“I never thought that it would be this hard.“ I could hear Jax saying. My head hurt so badly, but I knew Jax’s voice. I’d know it anywhere. For a second, I thought he was talking to me, but he wasn’t anywhere near me. “There are so many thoughts racing through my head, anxiety, regret, fear, panic. I feel like I am suffocating. But none of that matters.” He sighed, I could feel his sorrow from where I lay. “It doesn’t matter how much it hurts, it only matters that I am with him. I just want to be by his side and protect him. That’s enough. That’s all I want.”
“Jaxon.” The voice was quiet, soothing and very familiar. “It’s not easy. No matter how hard you try to protect them they disappear from your side before you know it. Ultimately unattainable. Are you prepared for that?” It was the Headmistress. What was she doing in the nurse’s office? “You think it’s enough just to protect him physically?”
Jax let out another sigh, I could hear him shift his feet from where ever he was. When he began speaking again, I heard a faint smile in his voice.
“I agree that he shouldn’t get unnecessarily involved in dangerous situations. But once he is involved, to make him quit without his consent would be going against his wishes. I like the Echo who has strong convictions and keeps looking forward. It’s that Echo I want to protect. Not just his body, but his heart too.”
I felt my heart squeeze at the thought of Jax wanting to protect me. It didn’t matter that we were two boys, or if anyone thought that gays were wrong. I just knew that I felt the same as he did. If it ever came down to a fight, I’d rather have him survive than me. I puffed out a breath and turned slightly in bed. I almost yelped. Juni was in a bed next to me, her eyes wide open staring at me. She put a finger to her lips, indicating for me to be quiet.
“His heart already has scars on it, Jaxon.”
“He still does not know?” Jax shifted again, his feet making a light sound on the tile. “He has the right to know, Amelia.” Jaxon spoke the headmistresses name familiarly, as if they had talked many a time to each other. The headmistress sighed, I could hear her chair squeak as she stood up. Her heels tapped on the floor.
“No, it is not the time for him to find out. Let him live the way he is.” The headmistress’ footsteps faded as she left the room, the door shutting soundly behind her. Juni shifted in her bed beside me. Just when we were about to let Jax know that we were awake, the door slid open almost soundlessly. Juni held her finger to her lips as we froze like deer caught in headlights. I leaned over, peering through the curtains.
“Student President,” Jax greeted in a tight tone. “What can I do for you?” Sam entered without acknowledging Jax as he shut the door behind him. Jax crouched like he was preparing to lunge. Sam adjusted his tie and studied Jax with dark hazel eyes.
“Down kitty, I’m not here to start fights.” Sam replied as he peered around Jax’s tense body. Jax growled at the kitty comment. “How is he?”
“Why do you care?” Jax demanded. “Student President needs to know the whereabouts of everyone?” Sam arched his eyebrow at Jax. Jax shifted back and forth on the balls of his feet. He didn’t like being cornered. He was the predator, not the prey. There was an audible pause in the air. The tension palpable. Juni and I traded glances.
“What an interesting thing to bring up, Hatter.” Sam said as he took a step forward. “Being Student President doesn’t only mean I’m smart, respected or well connected.” The veiled threat was obviously to him. Jax’s eyes gleamed brightly as he pulled his fist back. Sam already waved his arm, an icy dagger in his hand. I tried to call out but Juni was faster.
The petite girl vaulted from the bed, hopping onto Jax’s back and curled her arms around his neck. Reacting, Jax grabbed her arm and threw her over his shoulder like a rag doll at Sam. “What the!” Sam shouted before she slammed into his chest. His arms curled around her before pulling her back. “Juni!”
“Get your arms off of me.” She shouted, digging her elbow into his ribs. I peeked my head out as Juni popped up like she wasn’t just thrown in a middle of a testosterone fueled fight. “We all don’t want to see anyone hurt.”
“Excuse me? I have a bruise with your name on it.” Sam replied as he pulled himself up, rubbing his chest where Juni elbowed him. Juni gave him a side glance which he ignored. His soft hazel eyes turned towards me. “It’s good to see you’re fine, Echo.” I smiled back as Jax maneuvered in front of me like a physical barrier. “Are we going to do this again, kitty-cat? I’m not going to attack him.” Sam replied as he swept a bit of his hair out of his eyes.
“Stop fighting you two.” Juni shouted as she stepped between them. “We all need to work together to stop these kidnappings.” Sam and Jax stared at her as if unsure of what to make of her. She had her hands on her hips, her short green hair was plastered to one side from sleeping and she had a bit of drool crusted on her cheek. I couldn’t resist the laugh that burst out of me. I knew it was a serious moment but she looked so much like a Pixie that had been disturbed from her slumber. She turned her glare on me. I tapped my cheek then pointed at her. She looked at me like I was crazy until she felt her own cheek. Her face turned several different shades of red before she let loose a squeal and scrubbed her face with her hand.
Jax caught my eye again, and this time I held his stare. The expression on his face, I had never seen it before. It bewildered me. I felt as if I was the little mouse caught in those cat green eyes. If he were to stare at me any longer, then I would be unable to move forever.
I felt like I needed to say something to him but with Sam and Juni in the room, I held back and avoided his gaze. With the two of us recovered, Juni turned to me and asked me why I had blacked out as well. I told her about what I saw and that I believed it had been from Holly’s perspective. By the end of my explanation, she was nodding.
“That’s the same thing I saw,” she stared at me, questions filling her eyes. “But how in the world were you able to see it too?”
“I felt my Tama activate. It was odd, then I was in the vision.”
“Why would your powers activate?” Sam asked, looking between Juni and I. I chewed on my thumbnail, worries nagged at me.
“Did your father have something to do with it?” Jax wondered, watching me chew on my thumbnail. He reached over and snagged my hand, holding it tightly in his before he brought it to his side. “Stop that,” he whispered in my ear. I felt myself blush and turned my head slightly away from him. Juni caught my eye and raised an eyebrow.
It’s not what you think, I thought to myself. Okay, who was I kidding, it was what she thought.
“His father? I thought his father was, well, dead.” Sam whispered the last part. I felt a pang toward my adoptive father.
“No,” I began before I told him everything about my real father. His expression didn’t change, just stayed stoic throughout the entire explanation. Jax held my hand lightly, his warmth enveloping me and keeping me anchored. I wanted to be closer to him but didn’t know how. There were so many words I wanted to say. I was still searching for the right words. A way to break the shell, to get a little closer. For the right words to pull it off. To tell him everything in my heart.
“It makes sense,” Sam was saying, “he could have the power to link the two of you.”
“Why would I need to see it though?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he wanted you to see Nergal.” Sam theorized as he cradled his chin. I shivered at the memory of that raging god. The red stare of his eyes had me squeezing Jax’s hand tighter in mine. He squeezed back reassuringly before dropping my hand altogether. I felt bereft without the warmth of his hand in mine so I shoved my hand into my hoodie pockets. Love is so sweet, so bitter, so heartbreaking and so delightful. It’s all just anxiety.
“I never want to see him ever again.” I whispered at the same time as Juni. There was a loud sound of footsteps coming down the hall. The boys moved in front of Juni and I protectively. I resisted the urge to grab onto the back of Jax’s shirt. Mr. Parker slid around the corner, halting to a stop.
“I’m getting really tired of looking for the four of you.” Mr. Parker said as he gulped a large amount of air. It seemed that he had ran all the way to the nurse’s office to find us.
“Well, you could have called or texted.” Sam said nonchalantly, waving his phone at Mr. Parker.
“It seems you always find me in here. It’s like my new home.” I told him, looking around the room. It was cozy, if you kept on fainting for no reason.
“Don’t make it your new home, that’s disturbing.” Juni replied, hitting me with her elbow. She made a face at me and I made one back at her.
“Anyway, what did you need us for?” Jax sighed, ignoring the two of us.
“I bet you can guess. But, it seems your war god has taken another.”
“Who was it this time?” Sam asked, dreading the answer.
“One of the younger girls. Noelle Mikane. She has telekinesis as well. Seems she went to the bathroom and never came back so her friends got worried. When they went to find her she had ‘vanished into thin air.’”
“We need to warn everyone what is happening.” I voiced. It would make it so the others on campus would be aware of everything. It would make them wary. Hopefully it would also make it so less student were taken.
“But won’t that cause a lot of panic.” This was from Juni. She was right, a lot of the students would be frightened. Gods were a lot stronger than us after all.
“It’ll cause more panic for students to keep on randomly disappearing.” Jax reminded us.
“That’s up to the headmistress. I’ll talk to her and see what she say.” Mr. Parker glared at the four of us. “Stay out of trouble, I know you want to find those three that were taken, but don’t do anything stupid. Am I clear?” He eyed me, reading my mind. I wanted to turn my head away and start whistling. I couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t try to do something to find the three that were taken. Once I know the truth my entire perspective changes. Things that didn’t bother me before became noticeable. Even little things start to seem meaningful and there’s nothing I can do about it.