Chapter One: Wyatt's Obsession
"You sure you know what you're doing?" I ask Wyatt reproachfully, surveying the scattered potions on his table in the Magic School's library. Something about his little experiment just doesn't seem so safe.
Wyatt's permanently down-turned eyebrows frown even deeper. "I'm older than you. I would know. Do you think just because you were so special when you were little means that you're more powerful than me now?" He smirks triumphantly at me, thinking he's made some sort of a point by reminding me of my status in the magical community.
I merely shrug it off. "Just asking," I say lightly, turning my back on him. It's easy for me to just shrug off his cruel words, because I was sort of born like that after growing up around elders back before I destroyed the Embassy six years ago. I'm thirteen now, and Wyatt's fifteen. We're not exactly the ideal pair of brothers.
When I was seven, I was powerful enough to bring down the entire Embassy and then some. Wyatt, of course, hated me immediately. Aunt Phoebe said that back then I not only demonstrated empathic powers, I could shield myself and harness enough energy to blow people up and cause entire earthquakes. But now my only powers are premonition and empathy.
And Wyatt only hates me about half as much as he did before, which still isn't so great. Once he realized I was moving in…I shudder. That was NOT a happy moment. It took him months to accept the fact that we were brothers. Day after day, he'd play every prank in the book and try every little crafty way to bring me down or make me look back.
The down side to that? It worked.
Piper and Leo, as gracious as they were for taking me in after realizing my origins, seem to think that I'm a bit of a troublemaker. It's not all that bad, though, because I know that Aunt Phoebe and Aunt Paige still believe in me. Whatever they think, it's a lot better compared to my old life at the Embassy. That place was hell.
"Class starts in, like, five minutes," I remind him, staring absent-mindedly at the clock.
"So go," he sneers. "What are you hanging around here for anyways, loser?"
I bite my lip to keep from saying, To make sure you don't blow this place up! I hate it when Wyatt starts working on his stupid power-enhancement spells and potions. For one thing, they never work. For another thing, they always end up causing trouble. And, of course, I'm blamed. But, instead, I shrug at him again. "Dunno. Guess I'll see you later, then."
I sling my book bag over my shoulder, exiting the library and closing the large wooden doors just as some kind of explosion erupts at his table. With a sigh, I continue on my way to class and manage to slide into my seat merely moments before the bell rings.
The teacher, among the few that Paige appointed after becoming headmistress at Magic School, cocks an eyebrow at me. "Mr. Halliwell," she warns, giving me a sharp look.
I shrug nonchalantly. I shrug at everything, generally, and I can tell you that it tends to get on peoples' nerves. The teachers all think I could care less about my studies, but that's because they have no idea that I was among the fourteen saved from the Embassy back then. They have no idea that I've already covered all that they're teaching us and had far surpassed their level at the age of three. So Magic School's pretty much a joke to me—I sit there, get good grades, perplex a few teachers that were certain that I'd never paid attention in class. That's life.
I pride myself in the fact that I'm still miles ahead of Wyatt in intelligence despite my lack of power.
"Sorry," I mumble, taking out my spell book.
She points at the class schedule. "We're covering potions this morning," she corrects me, scowling at the book. "Put that away and pay attention."
I nod, wordlessly placing the book back in the bag and retrieving the new one. These teachers are so crabby. They're always trying to pinpoint us for doing anything wrong out of sheer enjoyment—no, really, I've read their emotions and searched through their minds enough times to find out.
"Close call," Hal, my potions partner, whispers in a tone that only one of the previous lighters could decipher. She was also one of the original fourteen, and the only one in my age category. She wears glasses but only for vanity reasons, since her eyesight was trained to see for miles back at the Embassy. Hal looks pretty average, sort of like me, with brown hair and brown eyes and a few freckles. We can relate to each other, since we had to endure the same torture with the elders.
"Wyatt," I mutter back. "Minds."
She nods knowingly and we revert to telepathy instead, just in case the teacher notices that we're not all too attentive of her basic potion-teaching. Ever since we were all really little, the lighters were able to use telepathy to communicate with one another.
What's he up to now? She asks me, mild amusement flicking through her expression. I gotta tell you, sometimes Hal scares me. After seven years of suppressing her emotions because of the elders, she adjusted into the modern emotional world like flipping a light switch. For the others and myself, it hasn't been as easy.
Nothing good. The usual, with all those stupid "I'm gonna be so powerful" ploys, I respond, rolling my eyes.
She frowns. I really think he's messed up.
Wait till you live with him, I joke.
"Chris, since you were barely on time this morning, how about you tell us what this next ingredient is?"
My head snaps to the board, reading the directions in less that a millisecond and respond, "Dandelion roots," flawlessly as can be.
Her entire frame seems to tense. "That's right," she says icily, obviously disappointed that she couldn't catch me off guard. No one can catch me off guard in Magic School, that's for sure.
The door to the classroom opens and Paige walks in, clearing her throat. "Uh, Janet—I mean, Mrs. Darson, we have a bit of a problem…"
"Oh, do you need me for something?" asks the teacher.
I sink into my seat a little when Aunt Paige's gaze falls on me. "Actually, no…Could I borrow Chris for a moment, please?"
The teacher almost smirks with triumph. "Surely. Halikar will inform him of our lesson when he returns."
Hal winces at the sound of her full name; I wince as well, anticipating the wonderful antics of Wyatt for only the hundredth time this month.
"Chris," sighs Aunt Paige, closing the classroom door once we're safe in the hallway. "Your brother…was…messing around this morning. Again. You knew of this, right?" she questions.
It's not like I'm going to lie to her. "Yes, I was there," I say honestly. "But I had nothing to do with it," I add.
"I know, but you know you're supposed to tell us if he starts screwing around with magic like that," she persists. "He could've blown up half the school! Wyatt's nothing but a machine of destruction, nowadays, Chris. I'm counting on you to warn us. Why didn't you say anything?"
I shrug. She glowers at the gesture I use all too often so I tell her, "Look, what Wyatt does is Wyatt's decision. I can't interfere. Besides, does it look like I want to get on Wyatt's bad side? Like you said—he's a 'machine of destruction.' I am destruct-able on his radar."
Paige's eyes grow wide. "Wyatt would never intentionally hurt you," she said, though I can see the doubt in her eyes.
I suppress my laugh with a little cough. "Excuse me," I apologize. "What I mean is…you know. He's Wyatt. You don't want to get on his bad side, and anyways, he made me swear not to tell you anything."
She groans. "Whatever, mister. You're just lucky I'm not telling Piper this time. She'd blow a gasket."
"Thanks," I say gratefully.
"But I am telling her about Wyatt's little potion mess. You wanna see what he did to that table? Oh, yeah. You can't. There is no table!" she exclaims with fake, forced joy before rolling her eyes at me. "Get back to class. I'll see you later at the manor, okay? And remember to meet Mel at the nursery after school to pick up Brandon."
"Sure," I respond. "See ya later."
"See ya, sport," she says, orbing out with a little wave.
I sigh. Just the beginning of another lovely day at Magic School. I open my mind, sending out the telepathic message to ten other children…Library's busted. Meeting on the bridge.
And even though the message is greeted by silence, I know that everyone hears.
I'm seething with anger and disappointment. It's not fair! Why don't the damn potions and spells ever work and make me more powerful? If I'm ever going to show the world who's boss, I need to master this. It shouldn't be so hard. After all, I am the most powerful being in the world. And once I gain enough power…I can stop all those that may potentially stand in my way.
The moment I orbed into my bedroom to find him, I knew that my life had been changed forever. Now I wasn't the almighty strong one. I had competition, a little element I wasn't quite accustomed to. And no matter what I did—no matter how many times I tried to break him down, convince him he was pathetic—he was always there. He still is here. Nothing bothers him, he's always just ignoring my attempts with a little shrug. How can somebody be so indifferent about it?
I could never admit the real reason why the little sucker is still breathing: I can't kill him. I've tried, trust me when I tell you that I've tried to kill my brother. But there's always some force protecting him that he never quite took down after coming from that damned Embassy, like he's always got some advantage that I can't explain.
Why wasn't I chosen to train Up There? What made him better than me? How much power does he truly possess? I'm always keeping tabs on him, making sure that it doesn't grow. I need to make a potion that works. I need to eliminate him before it's too late.
Which is the reason I'm standing on the Golden Gate Bridge right now, hidden by an invisibility potion that we had in stock in the attic cabinet. I was able to intercept his little telepathic message through a spell I put on his mind. I can intercept little tidbits every now and then, and his message to the other Embassy children, since it was so loud to reach them all, came out loud and clear.
One by one, they all pop up onto the Bridge by spell or potion. Chris poofs in by spell with a few of them and they count heads: ten kids plus Mel, Bran and Bree. A spell protects them all from falling off with a barrier. I hide, balancing on a pillar, and watch.
There were originally fifteen kids in this little Embassy of theirs. Two of them died—one of them apparently very close to Chris, but he's never talked about it. Not that I'd ever care. And then two of them completely ignored all of magic when they were reunited with their parents. The oldest of them, Annabelle Tearsh, is a full-time teacher at Magic School now, appointed by Aunt Paige.
I hate every one of them. They all make me feel inferior with their knowledge and secrecy, a silent understanding radiating between them all from their shared past. When I gain my power…they'll all be the first on my list if they don't cooperate.
"Hey, Mel," an Embassy girl, Chris' age, greets my cousin. I roll my eyes. They treat Mel and the twins as if they're one of them, even though the Embassy was long since destroyed by the time the twins were born.
"Hello, Hal!" Mel says excitedly, a huge grin on her face as the wind blows up her blonde curls. Mel's all about adventure and risk, like her mother, Aunt Phoebe. It gets her in trouble a lot.
I love it when someone else is in trouble.
"Everyone here?" asks Chris, holding the hands of Bran and Bree. He counts the heads along the beam of the bridge and nods in satisfaction. "Okay. Now that we're all here, I think we should all give reports on our powers—"
They're always giving reports, just in case something from the Embassy went whacked. Every now and then they'll all have strange power surges, usually starting with the youngest of them all the way up to Annabelle. Chris is basically their leader now, even though he doesn't have all the powers he used to. In fact, all of his powers are dormant now, asleep. I love taunting him, telling him that they're gone forever…but I must hide my fear, for I'm the only one that can still sense them within him. I don't think he uses them unless he really needs them.
One of the girls, maybe ten or so, raises her hand. "I finally got a power," she says giddily, expression full of pride. "Back up," she says to the kid behind her. He steps out of the way and she closes her eyes and falls back, lifeless.
There is no collective gasp, because magic as extreme as this is seen pretty often among them. She's visiting other worlds—the dead, the demonic, the spiritual—though I doubt that her journeys are too dangerous if the power is new. Eventually she rises, in her hands carrying a shining jewel. "See? I can go to other worlds now and even take things back."
"Wow," says Chris, encouraging her. "That's awesome, Lau—"
A sickening crack erupts from under everyone's feet. I frown, looking down and realizing that the bridge is literally collapsing from underneath us. I gasp, orbing away.
The little freaks can surely fend for themselves.
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.
Hey, everyone! Here's the sequel. It'll get better, trust me. This chapter was sorta blah blah since I had to reintroduce a lot of themes. RnR, pretty please! I wanna know what everyone thinks of it so far.