Chapter Eight: Petrova
In the cold light of day, my flirting with an angel made me feel, sickly, it wasn’t cute or funny or romantic, it felt wrong. Sure it was right at the time. But there is nothing like getting back to reality with too many texts to read and just knowing something bad has happened. That pit in the bottom of my stomach had me running to the warehouse, almost. There was something bad. Someone had to take Leianna’s place in order to get her back. Someone that was willing, that someone, as it turns out was the warlock in chief’s little brother, Henry.
Getting Leianna back is important, but this was a hell of a cost, Henry didn’t even think about it, he went through and lead the way to get her. I daren’t think about what his fate will be.
Leianna came through unconscious. Chief warlock Prior began his work, undoing the magic that had her asleep and un-wake-able. It must have been an hour or so but when she woke, she was pale, her first word was my name, but her voice sounded, wrong. Panicked. I couldn’t help it, thinking what might have happened to her, how pale she was, what horror had she seen? I pushed past my cringy night of over stepping boundaries with rose tinted glasses and I just felt so guilty. I had had such a beautiful time, such a romantic moment getting intoxicated by something completely new and Lei was in some kind of horror.
She might have called for me first but she was quick enough to go with Prior, she barely knew him, it was the boy, Henry she knew, that’s why she trusted him enough, she even called him Orion. When she walked through the portal the room stayed quiet, a whole damn minute no one spoke. It was Orla who issued the orders to clean up and seal the area off. Bleddyn and Orla walked away, in conversation. We knew what we had to do.
“What happened? I tried to call and message and you didn’t answer” Ward handed me the paper cup filled with hot chocolate and whipped cream.
“I didn’t have my phone. What was so urgent?”
“I was worried; I didn’t hear from you.” he seemed sincere.
“That’s what we expect in this life though. Ward, what are we doing?” I ask, what Ymirxi had said had been playing on my mind. Ward, he looked like he was more than on the spot, I know he knew what I meant, he couldn’t get away with acting like he didn’t understand the question.
“Do you want to stop?” I couldn’t read him, I couldn’t help picture kissing him pressed against the trees in the wood, I couldn’t push the image of Ymirxi kissing me from my mind either. Kissing an angel was one thing, but the likelihood he would come here, stay here, be what he thought I needed, that was slim, it was impossible. Ward, he wasn’t impossible, I could lose so much that I don’t even have right now. But that is the thing, I don’t even have it.
“I want to go on a date.” I say surprising myself. I’m not sure I really want to, but how else am I going to learn. I expected him to stumble, to back out of it, to walk away or laugh.
“A date?” he asked.
“Yes, a date.” I take a sip of hot chocolate to try to do anything other than stand here waiting for some kind of rejection.
“Sure. A date sounds like fun.” He wasn’t joking. “When do you want to-?”
“Now” I say, surprising myself. We were off the clock. I take another sip as he nods and takes it in his stride.
We wind up walking around trying to find somewhere to eat, somewhere that tickles our fancy, we end up in a Burger King. The height of romance, he had the onions left out of his order. We can’t help ourselves, we ended up speculating a little about Leianna. How could we not. He was funny and witty and the person I have spent so long ignoring all the things I liked about him. It felt strange, I’ve known him for years, it’s not like he is someone completely new and yet, I felt nervous. I couldn’t help it. He smiled at me, so warm and welcoming I couldn’t help but wonder if I had made a mistake all this time.
“I’ve had fun tonight” I surprised myself. I don’t know if it was feeling powerless to change the world we live in for so long, maybe I finally cracked. All things keep pointing to disaster, we work together, we fight demons far too regularly, we get hurt all the damn time and risk our lives all the time and I am still standing here. I am still waiting for some horror to drop in and destroy everything.
“It’s not over yet,” he took my hand and we walked out the door and up the street. “I know it’s my fault, we haven’t done this sooner, but I am glad we are doing it now.” He might be leading the way but I can still sense his hesitancy.
“Me too. I have to ask, why say yes now?”
“I realised, when Leianna was taken, if it was you, I wouldn’t have cared what the price was, I wouldn’t have cared what I had to sacrifice, what anyone else would have had to sacrifice, I would have done it to get you back and out of there in a heartbeat.”
I let his words sink in, it doesn’t feel real, being here, with him, its strange. “But we are in life, death and disaster situations, like, every day. You’ve had years to say and realise any of this stuff.”
“I know. I wasn’t ready.”
“I remember.” There’s a lot that I remember, like watching him man whore it up over the years, like me ignoring the spark we had but never acting on it, the jealousy. This should feel amazing, and in some ways it does, it has been years of wanting this, wanting to hear him say he wanted to be with me, wanting him to say he had feelings for me. Years of not feeling good enough, feeling angry and hurt and putting up with scraps. It felt wonderful to hear, this date felt wonderful, but it didn’t erase that. It hasn’t erased the negligence and the hurt and feeling used. Even when it was me initiating something that seemed so meaningless and physical to him. I hadn’t realised I had let go of his hand it was his expression that caught me off guard. “I’m sorry” I said but it felt false.
“Don’t be. I was a jerk; I am a jerk. I get it.”
It might have been hurt or anger bubbling in me, but I couldn’t help but say the first thing that popped into my head, “yeah, you are.” I took a breath but it didn’t clear this new nagging insecurity creeping in. “Is this really because of what happened to Leianna?”
“I care about you”
“As a friend” I retorted, all those times he said something like that to me.
“No, not as a friend, you’re my best friend, you are more than just my friend and I fucked you about and hurt you and took you for granted and I saw how Henry was about her and I realised, I would be the same, I would do the same and sacrifice everything to keep you safe. I would go against everything we believe in, everything we are taught. Don’t get me wrong, I know you wouldn’t want me to, I know you can more than handle yourself, but I would do it anyway.”
This is what I wanted for so long, maybe not exactly, but still. I don’t know what to say, the thought of that kiss with Ymirxi, the guilt of not telling Ward, of not telling Ward anything about Ymirxi or being able to.
“Ward, you can’t say that. You have no idea how much I wanted to hear you say that for so long, but right now, I need time. I know it sounds like I am fobbing you off or backing out or whatever you call it but as much as I have wanted this for so long, there is just as much hurt that has built up and that is hard to just wash away with sweet words.”
“I get it”
“We treated each other badly and expected too much and the wrong things from each other for too long. If anything, one step at a time, slow little gentle steps. Allowing feelings is new, especially after fighting them for so long.”
“Ok, if that is what you want, if it is what you need.”
“I think so, I’m sorry. But it might be what we need right now.”