|My Looking Glass
Author: Elise Davidson PM
Wherein mirrors aren't just mirrors, magic is real, and the potential to do something great lies just around the corner. :slash: Read other warning and notes within, thanks! CH22 Update. COMPLETE.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Tragedy - John D./J.D. & Dr. Cox/Perry - Chapters: 22 - Words: 183,676 - Reviews: 162 - Favs: 78 - Follows: 62 - Updated: 02-04-10 - Published: 05-20-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3547733
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Jack swayed against Peter's chest, eyes opening slowly. He jerked his head sluggishly, feeling much like he had back when he was sick. He peered around for his parents, but he didn't see them. He looked up and saw Peter's face, and immediately began to wail.
"Would you be quiet for two seconds?" Peter snapped at him, breathing shallow and his eyes black.
"I want my daddy!" Jack barked back indignantly.
"And you'll get him. Remember what I said about learning the lights?" Peter asked.
Jack glared at him. "I want my daddy," he said petulantly again, as if this made a difference this time.
"Children," Peter muttered, and carried Jack roughly into his office. He settled him down on the desk. "Now listen here, little one. Your daddy and your mommy will be here soon; I promise. But until then, you've got to be very quiet."
"You're a bad man," Jack retorted to that, and peered at the floor. It wasn't too high, was it? He could probably make it, just like he did on the jungle gyms back home.
"All people are bad in the long run, don't you think?" Peter retorted, glancing back towards the door as thunder rolled through the sky. He could hear the fighting downstairs from up here, could feel the drafts carrying fire and water both upon them.
Jack suddenly jumped off the desk, hitting the ground hard and rolling to the floor. He scrapped to his feet, trying to make a beeline for the door. He felt a long hand curl around his arm, and he turned around to kick wildly.
"Let me go!" Jack yelled, face furious and red.
"Over my dead body," Peter snapped back viciously, and yanked him hard enough that Jack felt something pop out of place. He shrieked in pain.
The door rumbled suddenly, and Peter glanced up. He held Jack behind him, if only to protect his resource of power. Jack still struggled against him, shoulder throbbing and his mind whirling.
"Do you want to make the lights, Jack?" Peter asked quietly as he kneeled down.
Jack shook his head no. "I want to go home," he whimpered finally, the fight drifting from his frame.
The door thumped again, and Peter thought he heard someone yelling on the other end. Water trickled between the doors, and Peter finally seized Jack's neck, lifting him off his feet and laying him on the table. He began to chant over the child, watching reluctantly as Jack's eyes rolled into the back of his head.
The door thrust open suddenly, a blaze of fire and smoke curling from it as he watched them enter the room.
Peter felt the energy rush through him as Jack passed out, and lay unconscious on the table. The boy was paler than a sheet now, and almost gray with lack of energy. Peter ignored it and turned, feeling far more refreshed and ready than he had before.
Yes, the child had power. Ample amounts of it, no doubt, and the infusion spells had done the trick.
"Come to save the day again, have we?" Peter asked carelessly. "You're on house ground, you know. Odds are not in your favor."
Perry shot forward immediately, sword now dropped to the ground in favor of his bare hands. He saw Jack laying on the table, saw Peter standing in front of him. Nothing but Jack filtered his vision now, and he would do anything to anyone standing in his way.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Peter said warningly, hand clutched over Jack's chest. "He's two seconds from death if I so choose it."
Carla rolled a marble in her hands, glancing to Turk. Forgiveness was in her eyes, but not her stance, and she jerked her head to the opposite side of the room, where Jordan stood with a couple of decayed corpses with her. Turk nodded, seeming to understand that they were going to launch one more attack.
Jordan held a hand up to keep the corpses behind her as Peter's hand tightened on Jack's shirt. "I wouldn't be playing god right now if I were you," she mocked him. "You're outnumbered."
"Not outpowered," Peter retaliated. "Who told you that you could take me on, hmm? Was it Erin Hale? You see where she's ended up."
"And let me be the first to thank you for that," Perry said with a teeth-baring smirk. His hands were glowing again, itching to get to his son. "Now, if you could quietly lay down and die, we'll be on our way."
"It's not going to be that easy," Peter said, eyes shifting against the bright light of Perry's hands and the haze of the room swirling around his ankles. "This land is inhabited by many spirits, ones I've sold my soul to for power. This child will be the next to rule them."
"Like hell he will," Perry snapped, taking another step forward despite Peter's hand. "And why don't you let go of him anyway? Do you really need to hide behind a four-year-old for protection?"
Peter snorted. "Hardly. He's my insurance." He picked Jack's motionless body up, the whites of Jack's eyes rolling in his skull. "As long as I've got him, this country still lives to practice its ways. Or did Erin not tell you the whole story?"
"There isn't a whole story," Jordan pointed out, approaching slowly and giving Turk room. Turk had backed against a wall, hand settling on the granite as he seemed to test something.
Carla received Turk's message loud and clear; the integrity of the room wasn't terribly solid, not with the fighting they'd been doing the whole way up. She felt exhausted though, and didn't know how much more she could give.
"There's you and Jack," Jordan finished. "And I suggest you hand him over, because honestly? I'm a mother, and that's my son. Nothing you've got is going to overpower that."
Peter began to back towards the door. "Touching, really, a mother bear growling over her cub." He shifted his glance now to Elliot, whose fingers were trembling with trapped air. "Relic Reid, so delightful to see you again. Sans prison garb; no desire to see the truth any longer, is there?"
"Truth and history are often two different things," Elliot replied, the venom in her voice surprising her friends. "You've only shown me their horrors; what of yours?"
"You wouldn't survive them," Peter said, feet on the balcony now. The rain was pounding, and it seemed to rouse Jack just a bit. He tilted his head in Peter's arms, groaning in unconsciousness. The ground suddenly quaked softly beneath his feet, and he turned his glance to Turk. "You, I have not met. Tell me, do you have as much fight in you as your predecessor?"
Turk snorted. "You don't want any of this," he replied, fingers digging into the concrete. He didn't bother to shift into it; blood ran down the wall where his nails scraped and bit into the stone. "None of this at all."
Peter snorted. "Just as stupid as him, I see." He then looked at Carla. "And you…one of my archers managed to snag your shoulder."
Carla tilted her head, rolling the marble in warning in her hand. "If by my shoulder, you mean it tickled more than it hurt, then sure."
"Feisty," Peter smirked, and felt his back hit the balcony. "Tell me, do you six mean to kill me?"
JD finally stepped forward, his heart beating loudly in his throat and his hair drenched from the water he had been manipulating. "If by kill you, you mean dismember and disembowel, sure. We're doctors, moron."
"Lot of good that's going to do the child," Peter pointed out, and climbed onto the balcony. The ground immediately stopped trembling as Turk yanked his hand from the wall.
Perry ran forward then. "Drop him now or—"
"Or you'll what?" Peter asked, and held Jack tightly to his chest. The whites of Peter's eyes began to fade again, though the six in front of him knew not what it meant. The blackness of the clouds began to swirl faster at his feet, and the ground trembled as thunder rolled through the room. "You'll do nothing till he's safe either way, I take it."
Perry continued his advance then, words unimportant.
"Perry, do something!" Jordan finally screamed when Peter held Jack over the ledge. The corpses behind her were unleashed as her hand dropped and she lost her focus. "Stay back!" she hissed at them in a language that belonged to Nox alone.
Perry suddenly blinked quite quickly out of existence, it seemed. In a flash, however, he had appeared again, hands tangled up in Peter's body and yanking Jack from him. Before anyone could register this, however, he had blinked out again.
Jordan screamed when she didn't see them again. She let the corpses go finally, following after to explode them as close to Peter as she could manage. JD had managed to start freezing the pouring rain, turning it to hard hail that beat against Peter's body.
It didn't seem to affect him much, and he raised his hands to Jordan's corpse-shields, collapsing them as soon as they approached.
"You're in the wrong land to be fighting with that," Peter growled, his voice hardly human now in his anger. It rasped, as if being forced from him, and he didn't seem entirely in control of his limbs. "I can control them far better than you."
Jordan didn't remember if she'd ever asked Mary about how to fight summoned. But she knew enough to freeze time if need be, even if it exhausted her to do so.
But Perry seemed to have an idea of what to do. He passed Jack quickly to JD as Peter raised the corpses back up. They began lumbering towards Jordan, and Peter's grin flashed in the lightening as Perry shot forward again, blinking in and out faster than anyone could keep up with.
He wrapped his hands around both their necks, white light flashing angrily against them. One howled, the other crumpled immediately, as if Jordan hadn't quite raised him right.
Peter clapped. "Fine job, fine. Bravo." He suddenly jumped from the balcony back to the stone ground, hands and arms almost dancing gracefully. The lights flashed out then, lightning from the storm the only thing keeping the room lit.
Now, just as Perry had been teleporting, Peter flashed in and out as he walked the room briskly, guttural chants escaping his throat and burning the room with its long-dead magic. Perry could barely make out JD's blue hands in the darkness, and he struggled to focus on the end point. JD had Jack, after all, and he knew Peter would take him back at all costs.
Elliot rushed the wind through the room without warning then, knocking Carla to the floor. Carla shrieked in pain as her shoulder contacted the tiles, still not completely healed. The fire marble dropped from her hand, and she grabbed the ball of flame into her hand quickly to keep the room lit.
Perry was approaching JD, Peter was hot on his heels. Jordan was still fighting off one corpse that hadn't quite fell away from Perry's attack, and Turk had his hands in the wall again, the bones twisted and broken in his fingers. The ground was quaking again; Carla was nearly sparking in rage as she advanced towards Peter with flames in her hands.
Peter whirled around in surprise when the first ball of fire burned his lower back, and instead of casting a spell, he backhanded her to the ground.
Turk howled indignantly, and yanked his hand from the granite wall. It was bloody and broken, but glowing so brightly that his face was alit in unholy rage. He slammed it into the ground, succeeding in knocking Peter and Perry both to the floor.
Elliot felt herself shift to air to avoid the sudden jolt of the ground, and used it to sweep towards JD, who was still holding Jack in the darkness. Lightning flashed through the room, and she stepped from the air next to JD.
"Give him to me," Elliot said quickly, and took the boy. "Peter's on your heels."
JD whirled around and looked for water. Carla's fire had managed to begin drying the room out, and he was still ten feet from the window easily. Perry was still advancing towards him, though his eyes were on Jack in Elliot's arms.
Peter looked over Perry's shoulder, watching the glances between the two men. Having lost the opportunity to snag Jack, he approached Perry instead.
JD's eyes widened as Peter caught a hold of Perry's shirt, hand digging into the skin of his neck as the words fell from his open mouth. Perry suddenly let out a howl of pain, the white washing from his fingers as his face went completely gray.
Peter grinned. "Energy goes both ways, Relic," he hissed at him.
Carla threw a marble to the floor then, the swirl of fire surrounding her feet. Her face still stung like hell, and she tried to ignore how the fire blistered her skin, even though she felt no pain. She gathered it into a ball as Jordan scrambled back towards them, having finally unsummoned the corpse that had been attacking her.
Carla threw the ball into the stone floor and smacked at it to create smaller missiles. She didn't have any marbles left after this.
JD shot towards the window as Elliot quietly slipped from the room, finally taking Jack away to be safe. He breathed a sigh of relief, and felt the hard rain pound him again as he stepped outside. The blue light on his hands finally increased, and Perry's howls still echoed in the room as Peter continued to chant, deflecting the smaller balls of fire that Carla threw at him.
Elliot held Jack tightly in her arms, whispering quietly to him as she headed for the mirror she knew was down the hallway. "Jack, when you get to the other side of the mirror, I need you to stay there. Just like hide and seek, okay?"
Jack whimpered at that. "I don't like hide and seek anymore," he whined, remembering how he'd played with Peter, and how Peter had whispered words in the darkness to him that made him writhe and twist in a nightmare.
"I know, Jacky…but you've got to stay there. If anyone comes near you, I want you to think as hard as you can about disappearing, and you will, okay?"
Jack nodded miserably, and Elliot placed him in front of the mirror. "Be a good boy, and we'll see you soon."
Elliot watched carefully as Jack climbed through the mirror. She hoped Alan would find him there; Alan was likely heading for the nearest mirror himself to get out of Idyllithia.
Jordan looked at JD. "This better be good," she barked at him, and swept her arms towards Peter and Perry. They froze in place oddly, still blurred at the edges as their plane of existence stopped in that moment.
JD gathered the water slowly into his hands as Elliot came back into the room. He needed her to create a pressurized sphere of air to keep the water where he wanted it.
"Elliot!" he yelled at her, struggling to keep the fluid ball of water where it was.
Peter dug his fingers in harder, drawing energy from Perry until the man was hardly breathing beneath him.
Turk dropped to the floor again, shaking the ground and nearly knocking Peter from Perry's motionless frame.
Jordan swept her arms again, watching in horror as Perry's face turned an ugly gray and the white color tittered out completely. His hands came down from Peter's wrists in weakness, and he groaned in the floor.
Elliot formed the ball of air around JD's sphere of water, and she continued to carry it as JD finally let go, and charged over to Perry. He slid in the floor, taking a hold of Peter's wrists and crackling against the skin as rejected energy flowed. He felt nauseous, felt sick and a headache was setting in.
Peter glared at him furiously. "You can't handle this, little one," he hissed angrily, his voice no longer human at all.
JD glared at him as his blood burned. "Watch me." He slapped another hand to Perry's neck, transferring what he could as Elliot approached from behind.
Jordan tried one last time to freeze them, but all she managed was a few seconds of lost time. She collapsed in the ground then, unable to hold her body up any longer. She groaned, eyes open as she watched from her place in the floor. She crawled as best she could, collapsing once, twice and a final time into the floor as she passed out.
Elliot dropped the ball of water-filled air onto Peter's head, and he immediately howled in rage, jerking away and struggling to lift his head from it. Elliot's eyes glowed a bright silver, the aura slowly taking over her entire body as Peter struggled to breathe. The air was too wet for humans to breathe in successfully, she could feel it as he choked on the moisture-soaked air.
Peter arched in rage, scrapping at his neck to breathe. He glared furiously, struggling to break the hold Elliot had over his head. With a burst of black and purple haze that was tinged with green, his body gave a seizing spasm, arms flying out and knocking everyone in the room down with released energy.
The ball burst and JD struggled to wake Perry, giving him energy as quickly as he could. "Wake up, you self-righteous bastard!" he yelled in his face.
Perry gave a groan, his eyes slowly fluttering open. He could see that Carla was helping Jordan back to her feet. They struggled to surround him, energy levels nearly depleted and hardly anything left between them.
Perry swayed as he got to his feet, watching Peter as he whirled, seeing the surrounding relics forming a circle. "Are you going to hold hands and chant now, I suppose?"
Jordan felt her head pounding, and she shook it to free her mind of the voice in the back, the long-dead voice of a predecessor she had never met. By the looks on the other pale faces in the room, she was pretty sure they could see and feel it too.
Perry burst into light first, the white nearly blinding against the pitch of the room. The ground shook and threatened to knock them down again as Turk followed suit, and then Carla next. The room was hot and cold at the same time, the wind blowing horrendously from the window as Elliot jerked where she stood.
"You will not win this," Peter warned, hands splayed out and ready to fight and defend.
"You've already lost," Perry snarled at him.
The entire building shook with the remnants of power, the voices and screaming of the rage that came with the reunion of the relics. Thunder crackled dangerously, and the lightning flashed so quickly that it was a wonder that it was night time at all.
Peter stood in the middle of the melee, feeling the invoked spirits of Idyllithia fill him completely. He tipped his head back, arms outstretched as he welcomed them, feeling them take over him and fill him with energy and power. The chuckle ripped from his throat, and he lowered his head to turn and stare at everyone.
"This will end quickly," he hissed at them.
"Yes, it will," Jordan chose to say before anyone else could think to answer him, too concentrated on gathering their remaining power for one last fight.
Perry blinked out first, disappearing and reappearing behind Peter. He wrapped his arms around Peter's neck, effectively placing him into a chokehold. The darkness drifting from Peter burned his skin, made him feel sick and outraged at the same time.
Jack was safe. That was what mattered.
Jordan held her hands up, unsure of what she was about to do, but felt the voice in her head cheering her on as she finally managed to freeze Peter and Perry both. Elliot stepped forward next, gathering the air around her in crackled energy as Carla fueled it with fire drawn from the lightning. Turk shoved his hands one last time into the ground, collapsing the ground beneath Peter and Perry's feet.
JD jumped forward to grab Perry's hand, jerking him back as the floor trembled in warning of its loosened integrity. Perry fell backwards onto JD to the shaking ground, Peter's face frozen as the ground dropped beneath him.
"Tell me he didn't survive that," Elliot snapped, looking into the pitted hole Turk had made.
A column of black light shot through the hole, knocking them to the ground again. JD felt the floor shake again.
"We've got to get off of this floor," he shouted above the din of noise.
Carla took the fire she could and shot it towards the column of light and downwards, hoping she was hitting Peter to some extent.
When Peter finally rose from the bottom floor, however, his hair was smoking and the fire was licking at his arms.
"I'll begin with you," Peter hissed in Perry's direction, and he raised his arms to deliver a first curse.
JD shoved him out of the way and squawked in surprise as it hit him head-on, slamming his body into the wall across the room. Perry shouted as he followed, sliding on his knees to JD's motionless body.
Perry wrapped his hands in JD's shirt, but he didn't respond. "JD, wake up. Come on, JD, we need you to do this!"
Peter smirked in victory. "One down, five to go."
Perry tilted his head towards Peter's direction. "It'll be one down alright." With that, he teleported again, pulling Peter down to the ground and holding his arms tightly behind his back. "Someone do something!"
Elliot responded by forcing air into Peter's lungs once more. Turk approached from behind and struggled to remember the instructions Jeremy had given him on shaping into other forms. He hadn't thought to try this yet, but he assumed it still applied.
Jordan wiped the sweat from her brow, and Carla placed her hands on the older woman's neck. She jumped, and whirled around.
"Take the damn energy, freeze Peter until they're done," Carla hissed at her, and began transferring energy.
Jordan took it wordlessly, eyes purple and hands trembling as she pulsed with renewed energy. Peter stopped struggling immediately, the lines blurred around his figure and Perry backing away as Turk and Elliot continued their onslaught.
Elliot was pretty sure Peter's lungs were filled now to tidal capacity; she knew they could take no more. Jordan looked as if she were nearly done herself, and she continued forcing air.
It was Turk, in the end, who surprised them all with his actions. His hand glowing green, he placed it on Peter's chest. His hand suddenly shifted and changed, sliding into the muscles. His forearm twitched as he frowned in concentration. He could feel the overinflated lungs beside of his hands, could feel as one of them imploded finally, blood and tissue shooting over his hand.
His fingers finally wrapped around the heart, and he yanked back.
Jordan collapsed as it happened, falling into Carla's arms. Carla wasn't able any more than Jordan was to take the sudden dead weight, and she hit the ground too.
Elliot nearly puked as Turk dropped the bloody organ to the ground, and fell back hard to his rear in sudden shock. Peter's body fell forward into the pit created earlier, hitting the ground with a solid thunk as it bounced.
The entire building continued to creak and twist, and Elliot felt the air rushing around in all directions as the wind blew. They needed to get out, and they needed to get out now.
She was about to voice this too, when the floor gave way and collapsed beneath them all, crashing to the ground with a deafening roar.
Elliot woke slowly, feeling very much like someone had wrung her out like a damp towel. She groaned, and slowly lifted her head, hesitant to open her eyes. Gentle hands pressed her back down into the bed, and she moaned a protest.
"Sit still, little one," a familiar voice said to her.
Elliot finally opened her eyes, seeing Alan's angular face and thinning hair above her. "Where's—"
"Everyone's fine," Alan interrupted her immediately. "You're in Aether to recuperate properly in your own element."
Alan nodded. "He's safe. I found him right where you left him." He grinned weakly. "Though to be honest, I had a hell of a time catching him; he kept disappearing."
Elliot chuckled weakly, and groaned in pain as her chest howled. "I feel like someone's used my chest as a trampoline."
"That would be the building that fell on you," Alan pointed out, and took her hand softly. "You're okay. Everyone's alive."
"I saw JD fall," Elliot suddenly said, sitting up quickly again.
"He's fine, and you need your rest," Alan pointed out. "Now do as I say."
Elliot yawned reluctantly, tipping her head back on the covers as Alan's hand warmed her heart and promised to erase the memories. "I have rank on you, you know," she pointed out sleepily.
Alan grinned at her, and kissed her forehead as she slept.
Jordan groaned as she turned, the unfamiliar heaviness in her legs making her shift and open her eyes. Dammit. She'd broken her effing leg.
Laura was sitting next to her bed, making notes in a chart with one hand, another hand slowly passing over Jordan's stomach. She seemed to notice Jordan was awake, and turned her head.
"Afternoon, Relic Sullivan," Laura said softly, her hand shifting the color away as she stood.
"Don't get up on my account," Jordan tried to snap, but her tone was raspier than she meant it to be. She coughed it out, swearing that she could still taste rubble in the back of her throat.
"Don't try and be clever right now," Laura muttered. "A building falls on you and you still manage to try and piss everyone off."
"Quit it; I'm fine," Jordan muttered as Laura's hands drifted over Jordan's head.
"You're not fine; you had concussion," Laura said exasperatedly. "Would you mind terribly to simply sit still so I may perform the standard assessments?"
Jordan sighed irritably. "Fine. Where's Jack?"
"He's playing with Violet and Ian at the daycare in Lucesco," Laura replied idly. "The priests seem to think something happened with him in Idyllithia."
"Is he okay?" Jordan snapped immediately, trying to sit up. Laura pushed her back down.
"He's fine. The priests are assessing his element again because he's been making lights as children will do at his age," Laura replied. "And you're doing much better as well."
"Good to hear. I want to see my son."
"Naturally. He's been staying with me; Ian's supposed to be bringing him by soon."
"You'd rather he were staying with Erin?" Laura asked sharply.
Jordan snorted. "I don't give a shit about your balance when it comes to her; I hope like hell she rots."
"She is," Laura replied evenly. "She didn't survive her injuries."
"No tears shed here," Jordan retorted. "What about Mary and Jeremy? Ethan?"
"They're still being detained. I have been helping Kalen with the death rites until your return," Laura continued, placing her hands over Jordan's broken leg. "Your leg's going to make a clean heal, I think. Strong bones."
"That explains why it hurts like hell then," Jordan muttered and shifted to a sitting position. "Where's everyone else?"
"Recuperating in their own domains for now," Laura told her and sat on the edge of the bed. "It's best to heal nearest to your natural element; Carla's wound was different. She needed the sanctity of the castle."
Jordan shrugged her achy shoulders. "When will Jack be here?"
"Right about…" Laura glanced at the door as it opened. "Now."
Jordan fought the tears down as Jack scrabbled into her arms, hugging her tightly. "Oh, Jacky…you're okay!"
"Hi, Mommy," Jack said happily, kissing her wetly on the cheek. "I can make lights; you wanna see?"
"Of course I do, sweetie," Jordan said affectionately.
Ian followed Laura out of the room. "Relic Cox is on his way to see her as well. He wouldn't stay down."
"Sounds like him," Laura replied honestly.
"Jos said the same."
Carla felt the heat of a nearby fire, and she turned towards it in comfort. She felt a solid presence curl around her, and she opened her eyes to see Turk sleeping behind her.
"Turk," she said quietly, shaking him.
Turk bolted from the bed immediately, eyes wide. "Carla!"
"That's my name," Carla replied dryly. "We won, didn't we?"
Turk nodded, and Carla saw the unspoken horrific memories crossing his face. "We're okay, baby."
Carla wrapped her arms around him with a sigh. "Yeah. We are, Papi."
Perry stepped through the mirror, surveying JD's messy office with a sigh. He never had been able to teach the kid a decent filing system. He walked down the quiet halls, the familiar sounds of the hospital reaching his ears and making him miss home just a bit. He hadn't been able to wrangle information on JD's condition from anyone, and so he'd gone to see Jack and Jordan together, and then headed for Hydracia.
He walked quietly with his hands folded into his pockets, the scuff on his face tickling and making him itchy. He finally approached a nurse's desk and asked to see JD.
"He's in quarantine still," the older lady said behind the desk without looking up.
"Do you know who I am?" Perry asked tiredly.
The woman finally looked up. "Not really. Can I help you with something else?"
"You can take me to his room; I'm the leader of Lucesco."
Perry took little joy in her stumbling apologies as they continued down the hallway. She finally opened a door at the end of a deadly quiet hallway, and gestured him in. He took the chart off the end of the bed to survey it quickly, and glanced at the man in the bed.
JD wasn't waking up any time soon, by the looks of it.
Perry sat down on the bed, heart jumping into his throat as he found himself unable to say a word. He finally took JD's hand hesitantly, the skin cold and wrinkled slightly from water. There were no IV's, no machines here. If he hadn't known any better, he'd have said JD was sleeping. It was impossible to even fool himself, not with the gray cast that tinged JD's skin and made him look lifeless.
"Wake up," Perry finally said quietly. "Come on, JD…wake up." His voice cracked slightly, and he looked behind to make sure the door was closed. "I know you're in there; wake up, please."
JD didn't stir on the bed, chest rising and falling shallowly.
Perry swallowed hard. His voice didn't rise or catch again as he simply asked JD to wake up, over and over, until his throat had gone hoarse and his voice had gone scratchy. He could feel the anger and rage boiling beneath his skin, could feel the walls closing around his head and threatening to suffocate him.
"You're not going to wake up, are you?" Perry finally asked, voice full of emotions he couldn't relate to any more. "You've got to."
The door opened then, and Perry turned to glance at Laura.
"We need to move him," Laura finally said after a moment. "He needs immersion therapy."
"How the hell is that going to help and what in god's name is it?" Perry asked, not letting go of JD's hand.
"Full immersion therapy; we take the severely wounded who are too strong to go to Lucesco and submerge them in their element. For him, it'll be water. If it were you, it'd be the light."
"You're going to drown him?" Perry asked incredulously, wondering if he'd ever stop being shocked at their medical tactics.
"Well, of course not," Laura muttered in an annoyed tone. "We can breathe under water; you could too if you'd buy one of the bracelets we sell to tourists."
"Could you give me a few more minutes?"
"Not really," Laura replied apologetically. "We've given him plenty of time to recuperate on his own; we need to move him if we're going to get him immersed."
"Can you at least give me a chance to heal him myself?" Perry asked.
Laura sighed. "If you think you can, but we've already had Jos in here every day for the past week."
"Jos is my underling; I'm supposed to be more powerful, right?" Perry pointed out, and clasped JD's hand harder.
"Relic Cox…well…Perry?" Laura said gently, touching his shoulder, feeling him stiffen beneath her touch. "He needs this more than another attempt at healing."
Perry jerked away, and placed both his hands on top of JD's chest. They glowed white in the same familiar way, and he began trying to heal the other man. He could sense that something wasn't right, something wasn't flowing the way it was supposed to.
Laura came around to the other side of the bed. "It's not going to work; your healing isn't going to just cancel out the curse. He's not dying; he's comatose."
"I can do this," Perry snapped shrilly, hands pressing into JD's chest now. "Just watch." He forced the power out as much as he could, feeling his still battered body whine in protest. "Wake up already, Newbie; I can't do this forever," he barked, moving one hand up to rest on his collarbone and the other drift up to cover his heart. "You're going to be just fine; you've just got to let me heal you!"
Laura sighed as Perry drained energy from himself, giving it uselessly to the motionless man. His face paled and his arms trembled as he kept going, though nothing was changing. He sidled his hips across the bed for support, shoving Laura away when she touched his hand again.
"Unless you're going to help me, get back," Perry snarled, and turned his desperate face back to JD. "Quit it for christ's sake; this isn't funny. Wake up already; this isn't how this ends! We're supposed to have a balance; no one's supposed to get hurt."
Laura bit her lip and gently approached him again. "Perry…it's over. Let us do our work."
"He's fine; someone just needs to wake him up," Perry snapped. "Get his best friend, the black guy. He'll wake him up; he's just not listening to me because he knows how pissed I'm gonna be that he was pulling some shitty prank like this!"
Perry shook JD on the chest, the body rolling almost like a rag doll in the bed.
"You're going to hurt him, stop it!" Laura finally snapped. "He's in a coma; let us do our job and take care of him! It's over!"
Perry glared at her, hands raising without the benefit of having helped someone. "It's not over." He leaned down to JD's face. "This isn't over; this isn't how it's supposed to end, JD. Just…it's not…it's not supposed to end like this."
Laura snapped her fingers towards the door. A few more of the medical staffing entered the room. "We need to move him now," she finally said. "I can give you a minute or two to say bye; you'll be able to visit him when you want to, though."
Perry didn't respond, fighting down the horrid emotion that burbled in his chest and threatened to suffocate him. He wouldn't cry, he wouldn't. There was nothing to cry over, for god's sake.
He pretended he wasn't shedding tears as Laura did her work, having the medical staffers take him away for the elemental immersion therapy she'd mentioned. Laura pretended she didn't see his shoulders shaking.
It was nearly a month before anyone was well enough to truly take back over their duties. The first thing Elliot did when she felt up to it was see the rest of the Hale family.
When she arrived at the sanitarium, she was accompanied by Alan. Violet hadn't been able to manage it; Mary was her best friend, she'd said. So Elliot had taken Alan with her instead for protection; he had been handling business in Aether with her as she'd healed. Areli O'Brien had come too for extra security.
Areli was a quiet woman; she wore glasses when she wasn't training guards, and had long, dirty blonde hair that was always in a loose bun at her neck. She wasn't nearly as tall as Erin had been, only standing to Elliot's nose. But she was strong, and quick as well.
They were being kept in different cells apart from each other, and Elliot was surprised to see two other family members that she'd not even met. Two more Hale children that she'd never even known about were being kept in the same hallway though in different cells.
"Come to laugh, have you?" Mary asked sullenly from her cell when she saw Elliot, Alan and Areli approaching.
"I've come to ask you again if you knew what your mother was doing," Elliot replied evenly. "She fooled a lot of people, Mary. You shouldn't hold yourself to such a high standard."
"If I knew, do you really think I'd have let her do it?" Mary asked her angrily, wrapping her hands around the bars of the cell door. "I didn't have any idea at all; I wouldn't have let her take Jack anywhere if I'd known she was going to do this!"
Areli left them to go and talk to Ethan.
"Mary, you're not helping yourself here," Alan said wearily. "She had to have confided in someone about this plan, about this…debt."
"What debt do you keep talking about?" Mary muttered, flopping back down on the flat cot in the cell. "Everyone keeps saying that she owed something to that man; I don't have the faintest idea of what you're asking!"
"I clearly heard Peter say that she had repaid her debt," Alan went on. "You don't know anything about that?"
"All I know is that she and Peter went to school together with my father," Mary said as if she'd said it several times already. "Laura did too; she's not being detained."
"Laura wasn't at the school's protest for necromancy rites last summer," Alan pointed out. "You performed an illegal ritual several times, as I recall."
"I'm a teenager; of course I'm going to rebel! That protest was for a damn good cause too, the way people with a dark element are treated," Mary snapped. "Just let me out of here already; let us all go!"
"Not until we're convinced," Areli said passively. "There is nothing more to be gained here today, Relic Reid."
They began walking away, Mary's screaming voice drifting down the hall.
"You turned her to this, Relic Reid! And I'll prove it! This is all of your faults!"
Elliot buried the voice away.
Areli brushed a strand of hair from her green eyes, looking at the relics. "We are missing one," she said bluntly. "So I've asked Ian and a few others to take over Relic Dorian's duties until he comes away from immersion."
"Being obvious, aren't you?" Perry grumbled irritably. "Unless there's nothing new to discuss, I think we've pretty well got everything down."
Areli sighed. "Look, I know you don't trust me, but I'm not Erin."
"Damn right we don't trust you," Jordan pointed out. "We can handle this without being supervised anymore, so you can march your little fanny straight back to Aether. We've got it covered."
"You should still have—" Areli started.
"Just go back to Aether," Carla interrupted her. "We don't need supervision to run this place, and we'll pull rank if we need to. Besides, you have new duties to care for as well, capiche?"
Areli frowned hard. "Always this much trouble to take care of you guys?" she muttered and headed for the mirror.
No one responded as Areli went through the mirror and left them alone.
Perry leaned forward on the table. "So what are we here to discuss exactly?"
Elliot took the first initiative. "Well, actually, there's a labor-trade agreement I thought would benefit Turk and his people. The ventilation in the myrantium mines is terrible, and we could really use some magically-trained guys to blast through the tunnels. Air pressure just isn't working well enough, and we need those who are trained with the physics needed for ventilation to focus on that."
Turk stroked his chin. "What's in it for my people?"
"More jobs? Better pay?" Elliot asked. "I know you could use some more training with the archers. Aether's got the best right now."
"That reminds me," Jordan piped up suddenly, and shot a glance over to Carla. "You've got to keep an eye on those fire marbles. Everyone's got them, and it's not doing anyone much good to be distracted by it."
The conversations drifted in and out of the room, Jack playing quietly amongst the books of the library.
It would be nearly two months of uneasy peace and tension, of clean-up of the aftermath of the war, when they learned there had been a breach of security at the sanitariums that housed the Hale family. It was, perhaps, disturbing enough that when they searched the cells, Ethan and the two older siblings were dead.
What was truly bothering was that Mary and Jeremy were both gone.
Author's Notes: Well, that finishes book one! Taking a rather long break after this, I think XD I couldn't have done it without Quaxo, the most wonderful beta and talented author I know. Thanks for putting up with my brainstorms, my quirky attitudes and god knows what else during the writing of this. I hope you enjoyed the ride folks, and be on the lookout for the next book in the series!