Of course she was afraid of falling.
It was quite obvious now, but at first it had not been. Chase Turnleaf had watched her in Yellowstone National Park, on her first day at EAS. She had nervously backed away from the hill. Chase just thought she was going to run away, for she was doubting the existence of magic.
The memory played in his mind: he had been watching her face pale and her hands begin to shake slightly. He stared at her, wondering what on the freaking earth he should do, until she glanced around at him, and he snapped his head where he was supposed to be looking.
At the dragon down the hill. Not some girl.
And now, that girl with a huge phobia was climbing a huge beanstalk.
For a brief moment, Chase realized that this girl was incredibly brave to climb a beanstalk, especially if she were afraid of heights. He was also positive that she did it for her friend, Lena.
Someday, he would make her want to be brave for him, too. Someday.
Chase glanced back down at the girl.
Rory's fists gripped the stem of the beanstalk so tightly her knuckles were white. Her arms were shaking, and her pale face was glistening with sweat.
She still hadn't noticed Chase staring at her from above.
Was he supposed to talk to her? How? Did he, like, just randomly start babbling? Or did he have to hug her first? WHAT?
JUST SAY SOMETHING!
He summed up all the confidence he could muster, and said, "You're not going to fall, Rory."
Rory Landon seemed to have stopped breathing, but resumed when she heard Chase's voice. Her grip on the beanstalk tightened and she squeezed her eyes shut.
Man, this is going to be harder than I thought.
He felt himself want to sigh, but doing so would probably make Rory feel even more uncomfortable than she was now. Instead, he adjusted his position on the beanstalk, with one leg on the first leaf and another resting at the stem of the leaf. Near her.
She looked more terrified up close. "Look at me," Chase said.
That was what he did when he was with the people his dad rescued. There was a point to talking to them: to remind them that they were not alone. That they would be safe.
To his relief, Rory slowly lifted her head at him. He held on to the beanstalk with one hand, allowing him to lean closer to her.
"You're not going to fall, but we have to keep moving. Lena's got someplace to be."
Rory scowled slightly but nodded her head.
Stubborn as always. "Come on, then," he told her, moving back up the beanstalk.
Whoa. Was I just being nice back there? To her?
He had to glance back down to figure out why exactly he was being so nice to her. That was when he noticed she was still in the same place she was before, except she was staring hard at her arm.
Rory was trying, definitely; he could tell. She just needed more help...from him.
He climbed back down and settled on Rory's leaf. It was a mistake.
The leaf dipped wildly. Chase watched with exasperation as she struggled to hold on to the leaf. He was just about to tell her off, but then Rory Landon, THE Rory Landon, let out a whimper.
If Chase were still on the ground, at EAS, he would have laughed. He would have bent down, the same way she did when she thought he was Iron Hans, and squeaked. It would have been hilarious to him then, seeing her face turn red.
But now... Chase could not understand why it would be so funny.
He did not feel like mocking her. All he wanted to do now was help.
"Rory," Chase said slowly, as if talking to a young child, "you're not going to fall. I promise. You know how I know?" He tried to meet her eyes. "'Cause I'm going to climb right under you. If you slip again, I'll catch you."
It surprised Chase when realized how much he meant it.
The young girl's face crumpled slightly, clearly confused.
She still didn't trust him. Taking all the horrible things he had done to her before this, though, she had a right to think he was bluffing.
"But you know what?" Chase continued. "It wouldn't matter if we both fell. I overheard the Director and Ellie talking. They sent the magic carpet out. It's scouting the stalk, just out of sight. The Director wouldn't let us be in any real danger." It was all true.
Well, Chase admitted, maybe "overheard" is not the right word. It would be more accurate to say, "cast-a-hearing-spell-to-find-out-more-secrets."
Frowning at her little faith in him, Chase leaned closer, right next to her face. When she turned her head to him, he felt his wings twitch and his insides bubble. Chase believed it was her fear radiating off of her and to him.
He forced himself to keep talking. "Do you believe me?"
"Yeah," Landon whispered hoarsely, as if she had been screaming for the entire time.
Chase felt his face twitch in an almost-smile. She believes me! "Good. Now we're going to start climbing."
Rory sounded like she was hyperventilating, yet Chase did not find any interest in teasing her. " I know you can do it. I'm going to do it with you. Ready?"
Chase glanced around until he found a strong-looking leaf near them. He pointed above. "See that leaf a foot above your left hand? On the count of three, you're going to reach up and grab the stem.
"One..." He knew she was not going to fall.
"Two..." If she slipped, it would not matter.
"Three!" Because he would catch her.
His wings were not as strong as they could be yet, but it would be enough.
Rory obliged. Her hands were still shaking, but she did it.
Chase smiled and patted her shoulder. His hand tinkled. Wow, her fear was strong. "Perfect. Now you're going to stand up."
She obliged again. Rory winced at her legs. It seemed as if she was going to topple over.
But Chase would not let that happen.
He helped her through the most of the beanstalk. They were as high as the clouds already. Chase almost wiped the sweat from his brow in relief, until she slipped.
Chase stuck his hands out quickly. He flapped his wings hard to keep himself behind her, but she was heavier than he expected. "It's fine," he heard himself grunt. "Don't worry. I got you."
As you would expect, Rory and Chase made it up the beanstalk, with Lena watching them.
Chase was relieved that they made it up, of course. But more than that, he was glad he got to help Rory. Maybe she even thought of him as her knight in shining armour now.
Maybe, maybe not.
Chase thought back to what the Triplets said about his "obsession" with Rory. They believed he had a crush on her. What if...?
No. What are you thinking, Chase? You don't have a crush on her. You were just being awesome. Did you not see her shaking in fear back there? Yeah. It's not like you had a choice. Besides, Landon hates Turnleaf, right?
Landon, still shaking from the fear of falling.
Turnleaf, shaking as well, but not from the fear of falling.
He was blind. He was oblivious.
And he was falling.
PLEASE READ AND TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Thanks!
I hope this wasn't horrible. If it is, sorry!
But thanks for reading it anyway!
May V :)