This is a one shot of chapter 17 of the first book in the Mediator series – Love You To Death, or Shadowland – rewritten. This is the part where Suze is trying to get out of the house to exorcise Heather, but Jesse won't let her. It's still in Suze's POV, but is slightly different from the version in the book. Hope you like it...



Beep... Beep... Beep…

I turned off the alarm, clapped my hands to turn my beside lamp on and stared at the canopy above my bed.

It was midnight.

Tonight was the night that Heather was going to get her ghostly little butt kicked. Well, unless she willingly went along with the exorcism. But somehow, I doubted that was going to happen.

After dinner, I'd told my mother that I was going to go do homework, so I could get some much needed hours of sleep before having to wake up late night-early morning. But apparently, the people in the Ackerman household don't know how to leave people alone.

First, there was Dopey. After sitting down for our evening meal, what seemed like millions of questions about where I had been were thrown at me, because I hadn't returned home until after six. I had said that I was at the beach with Cee Cee Webb and Adam McTavish – which was actually true, and I had already given a message to my mother beforehand.

Dopey snorted at my answer, and, while chewing on a meatball, said, "Christ. The class freaks."

Andy gave him a glare and said, "Hey. Watch it."

"Well jeez, Dad," Dopey continued, completely ignoring the warning Andy had given him, "One's a freaking albino, the other's a fag."

That comment ended up getting him grounded for a week.

As me and Dopey were clearing the plates after dinner, I just had to point out that because of him being grounded, he would be unable to attend Kelly's pool party. The party that I had managed to get him invited to.

"Too bad, buddy," I said, while giving him a slight pat on the cheek.

"Yeah?" he said, "Well, at least nobody'll be callin' me a fag hag tomorrow."

"Oh, sweetie" I said, giving his cheek – the one I had just patted – a pinch, "You'll never have to worry about people calling you that. They call you much worse things."

Once again, he slapped my hand away.

"Promise you'll never change. I love you just the way you are," I begged him.

And as he was insulting me, Andy – with perfect timing, might I add – happened to walk into the kitchen. This got Dopey grounded for another week.

But the reason I couldn't get to sleep was because Dopey was blaring out his music – which was terrible – at high volume to prove how unhappy he was of the situation.

Finally, Andy came up, and took away Dopey's speakers. As it was finally quiet, I was just dozing off when Doc came into my room.

He started to tell me about the information he had on Jesse, but I had to cut him short, as I really didn't want Jesse to overhear what Doc was saying. I had told him that I wasn't completely over my jet lag yet, and that I needed to catch up on some more sleep.

"Can we talk about it tomorrow at school?" I asked, "Maybe we could have lunch together."

This caused Doc's eyes to widen, "Are you serious? You want to have lunch with me?"

Okay, that really wasn't what I had expected. I was expecting something along the lines of 'Sure', or 'Yeah, that's alright'. Not 'Are you serious?'

"Well, yeah", I said, "Why? Is there some rule high schoolers can't eat with middle schoolers?"

"No," Doc admitted, "It's just that… they never do."

"Well," I said, "I will. OK? You buy the drinks, and I'll buy dessert."

Doc seemed to like this idea very much, and, after agreeing, went back to his room with a huge grin on his face.

I was just getting to sleep when yet another one of my stepbrothers walked in.

This time it was Jake, asking for me to put the car keys back where I had found them after I had used them. I had told him that I hadn't taken his car out at night, but he just continued, telling me that maybe I could fill it up with gas as well.

After a few more times of me trying to tell him that I hadn't taken his keys at any point, and him still thinking that I had, I just agreed, in the hope that he would leave me alone so I could get back to sleep.

So after a few hours of sleep, I felt a bit better.

All of the things I needed I had gotten ready earlier in the evening. On the way home from the beach, I had made Adam drop me off at Safeway, so I could get the chicken blood for the exorcism. Not that I told him that. I had also stuffed candles, paint brushes and all the other things needed for a Brazilian exorcism into my backpack. I was ready to go.

I jumped off the porch roof, to find Jesse in his aural glory.

"OK," I said, "Let's get one thing straight right now. You are not going to show up down at the Mission tonight. Got that? You show up down there and you are going to be very, very sorry."

Jesse just leant against a pine tree, with his arms crossed over his chest. He was just leaning there, calmly, watching me with an amused expression.

"I mean it," I continued, "It's going to be a bad night for ghosts. Real bad. So I wouldn't show up there if I were you."

Although there wasn't much moonlight, I could see that Jesse was smiling. Wasn't he taking in anything I said?

"Susannah," Jesse finally said, "What are you up to?"

"Nothing." I got out one of my stepbrother's bikes from the car-port, "I just got some things to settle."

"With Heather?" he asked, while strolling up to me. I started strapping on my helmet.

"Right," I said, "With Heather. I know things got out of hand last time, but this time, things are going to be different."

"How, precisely?" Jesse seemed to find this whole thing very amusing.

I swung my leg over the stupid bar they have on boy's bikes - What is the point of those, anyway? I mean, surely it's awkward for the boys, as well? They just get in the way - and grabbed the handlebars.

"OK", I said, "I'll level with you. I'm going to perform an exorcism."

Jesse didn't like this answer, however. If his hand shooting out and gripping the handlebars between my fingers was any indication.

"A what?" All of a sudden, Jesse didn't find it amusing.

The confidence that I had – well, thought I had, anyways – disappeared. But what else could I have done? Seriously? Heather had to be stopped. And an exorcism was best way to go about it. I couldn't let her hurt anyone else.

"You can't help me. You can't go down there tonight, Jesse, or you might get exorcised, too."

"You" he said, in a toneless voice, "are insane."

"Probably", I mumbled.

"She'll kill you. Don't you understand? That's what she wants."

I shook my head violently, my hair flicking into my face, "No. She doesn't want to kill me. She wants to kill everyone I care about first. Then she wants to kill me." I was sniffling. The cold weather – even though it was California – was making my nose run.

"But I'm not going to let her, see?" I continued, "I'm going to stop her. Now let go of my bike."

But Jesse just shook his head, and didn't loosen his grip at all. "No. No. Even you wouldn't do something so stupid."

Ouch. "Even me?" I asked, "Thanks."

Jesse continued, ignoring what I had just said, "Does the priest know about this, Susannah? Did you tell the priest?"

"Um, sure. He knows. He's, uh, meeting me there." I was lying through my teeth, but he didn't need to know that.

"The priest is meeting you there?"

"Yeah, uh-huh. You don't think I'd try something like this on my own, do you? I mean, jeez, I'm not that stupid, no matter what you might think."

He believed this – surprisingly – and loosened his grip on the handlebars. "Well, if the priest will be there…"

And then I had to go ruin it with a: "Sure. Sure he will."

The grip tightened. Again. Jesse's other hand rose up, and he pointed his finger at me as he said, "You're lying, aren't you? The priest isn't going to be there at all. She hurt him, didn't she? This morning? I thought so. Did she kill him?"

I felt something in my throat. And it hurt.

"That's why you're so angry, "Jesse said, "I should have known. You're going down there to get even with her for what she did to the priest."

That was when Little Suze exploded. "So what if I am? She deserves it!"

Jesse grabbed the bike with both hands, making it impossible to move. Stupid ghosts and their stupid super-powers…

"Susannah," he said, "This isn't the way. This wasn't why you were given this extraordinary gift, not so you could do things like-"

I interrupted him, blurting out, "Gift!" I swear, Jesse must have met Father Dom… "Yeah, that's right, Jesse. I've been given a precious gift. Well, you know what? I'm sick of it. I really am. I thought coming out here, I'd be able to make a new start. I thought things might be different. And you know what? They are. They're worse."

"Susannah-" Jesse started, but I just carried on, ignoring whatever it was that he had to say.

"What am I supposed to do, Jesse? Love Heather for what she did? Embrace her wounded spirit? I'm sorry, but that's impossible. Maybe Father Dom could do it, but not me, and he's out of commission, so we're going to do things my way. I'm going to get rid of her, and if you know what's good for you, Jesse, you'll stay away!"

Just as I was about to kick the kickstand and get out of his grasp, Jesse boomed, "Susannah!"

I mean it. He literally boomed. Wow, for a dead guy, he had an extremely loud voice. I wonder if it came with the ghostly package, or whether he already had it.

"Susannah," he repeated, but in a normal - but still rather harsh - voice, "If you go down there tonight, and exorcise Heather, I will not be here when you get back."

"What?" Was he kidding me? "Are you defending her or something? Jeez, come on! Like you said; she's going to kill me!"

"Only if you go down there!" Jesse argued.

"Jesse. I can't let her hurt anyone else. I have to do this! The least you could do is support me!"

It was quite funny really, because when I had first met Jesse, I had wanted him to leave. But now, I was arguing for him to stay. I guess I got used to the fact that I had a 1850s ghost living – well, not living, but you know what I mean – in my bedroom.

"Susannah. Please don't. You'll get hurt."

I looked away, stubbornly choosing to ignore him until he let go.

Querida."

My heart rate sped up. Something in his voice, the way he said that word… even though I had no idea what it meant, I doubted it was something bad.

But I couldn't let one word stop me from exorcising Heather. I was Susannah Simon. Nothing was going to stop me.

"I told you not to call me that. And I'm going. I don't care if you're not here when I get back. You're not going to stop me from doing this!" And finally, I managed to yank the handlebars from his grip, and was speeding down the road, hearing a bunch of Spanish being blurted out behind me.

I didn't care whether he was there or not when I got back.

Not at all.

I mean, sure, the guy saved my life, but I would have been fine anyway.

But if he wasn't there when I got back, that was his problem. I didn't care.

So as I was pedalling down into the valley, with tears constantly pouring down my face, I told myself that it was just the wind causing the tears.

Yeah, just the wind.


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