Chapter Two: That Damn Haunting Past
The night before classes started was the next time that Sarah saw her mysterious roommate. After a full day of wandering the campus, figuring out where everything was and then heading to the store to buy some necessities, all she really wanted to do was just lie around and try to relax before she dozed off. So that was all that she'd done for the past two hours. She heard the rattle of a key in the lock and looked up from her laptop, wondering with a smile if Crys always had problems with doors or if it was just this one in particular that she seemed to have so much trouble with.
There was a laugh from the other side and a low murmur that was definitely a guy. Crys' boyfriend, Sarah's mind filled in the blank. The door swung open and, yep, there was her roommate kissing away at some guy right there in the hall. He had his head bent down enough so that all Sarah could see was his blond hair, just a little long on top. Curious, but feeling like a voyeur, Sarah forced herself to look back at her laptop and away from the happy couple. She shifted, sliding it out of her lap and onto the bed.
"I'll see you tomorrow," she heard Crys murmur. "We're giving my roommate a show."
Sarah looked up, intending to say something witty to the effect that she didn't care - who was she to spoil their fun? But the words died on her lips as the boyfriend lifted his head and she saw his face for the first time. Her breath caught in her throat, familiar eyes going just a bit wide when he, too, saw her. He stood up a little straighter, meeting her gaze coolly.
"Sarah," he said, evenly.
"Hey, Reid," she forced out, unsure how she was even managing to speak considering she was pretty sure her heart was beating fast enough to force its way right out of her chest. She stood up slowly from the bed, walking a couple feet before she stopped. He was just staring at her.
What was he thinking? As usual, it was so hard to read his face. It never had been easy, but she was desperately out of practice. Why was he here? Was he a student? Was this some sort of coincidence or had he come looking for her or --?
She stopped that line of thought with a mental slam and set her teeth on edge. This was just that - coincidence. Nothing more. Obviously he was dating Crys and this...this was all just some cosmic joke at her expense. A reminder that she couldn't get away, couldn't be allowed to forget everything that she had seen. Just like that she was taken back to Spenser, that frame of mind that she'd been in leading up to her departure. The way she hadn't felt safe no matter where she was or with who. She shivered even though the room was quite warm.
"You two know each other?" Crys asked, eyes moving between the two of them.
Sarah licked her lips and muttered a 'yeah' that sounded weak even to her own ears. Reid nodded once. Crys frowned, as if trying to figure it all out in her head. How this girl that she was rooming with at a college in Virginia could possibly know her boyfriend from Massachusetts.
"So - how've you been?" she asked after a long moment of silence during which he just stood there, watching her with those cool eyes.
So, still civil, at least. She shrugged. "Fine."
Then there was silence again. Sarah fidgeted and looked away, wishing that Reid would just go away if he didn't have anything to say to her. Not once in a million years had she thought about what it would be like if she ever ran into one of them again. Heated words, tears maybe. But this? This wasn't what she would have expected at all. She felt like she was under a microscope, the way he was watching her; as if he could figure her out if he just looked hard enough.
He couldn't. No one could. That was why none of them had known that anything was wrong until the day that she left. The knowledge that she'd hidden that so well from all of them left a bitter taste in her mouth.
Reid moved fully into the doorway, the action pushing Crys gently into the room, and Sarah's eyes went back to him automatically.
"He's fine, too. You know, in case you were wondering," he drawled with that mocking tilt of the lips that was oh so Reid.
Caleb. The boy she had been head over heels for, that had changed her life in so many ways – good and bad. The one that she had left because she just couldn't get over not only what had happened – but what i could /i happen.
"I wasn't," she said quickly. A little too quickly, judging by the way Reid's expression shifted to haughty amusement. She had been the one to leave and not look back - why would she care if he was all right, she wanted to say, but didn't.
"Wait - you're i that /i Sarah? Caleb's Sarah?" Crys broke in, the confusion on her face fading to understanding as all of the pieces fell together in her head.
"I'm not --"
"Yes," Reid cut her off before she could complete her protest. She hadn't been Caleb's Sarah for almost an entire year now. "The Sarah that just up and abandoned her friends."
Sarah sighed explosively and then shrugged. She held her hands up in a defeated gesture. "You're mad at me, I get it. That's fine. I deserve it."
Reid laughed at that. "Me? I'm not mad at you. Not really. I'm sure you had a very good reason to just...leave."
The way he said it made her wonder who i was /i mad at her. The urge to ask and be done with it beat at the inside of her mouth until finally it just broke free. "So who is?"
"Who is what?" He leaned against the doorframe, crossing his arms over his chest. Nothing about him had changed, Sarah realized. Not the way that he dressed or acted. Not the comb of his hair or that perpetual twist of his mouth that said he thought he was better than just about everyone else. He was still Reid.
And seeing him made something in her heart clench. There was a time when Reid was her friend. A good friend, at that - because he'd been very sorry about letting her get taken from the dance. i Her /i , he hadn't looked at with that condescending air. Not then.
Now he did and it hurt. But she had no one to blame but herself.
"Who is mad at me? Tyler?"
Reid snorted and a genuine smile touched his lips for the briefest of moments. "Have you ever known Tyler to get mad at anyone?"
He made a valid point.
"Caleb isn't pissed at you, either, before you ask. He's too forgiving for something like that."
Which only left one of the Sons. Pogue. "Pogue."
"Your powers of logic truly are astounding," Reid said with a roll of his eyes. "You and Kate were better friends than that. You left her a fucking note, Sarah. A note that said you were leaving and not to contact you. What kind of shit is that? So, yeah, Pogue's a little pissed that you hurt Kate. He gets like that, I'm sure you remember."
Sarah swallowed thickly and nodded, her hand coming up absently to run through her hair, pulling it back before letting it go again. She glanced at Crys out of the corner of her eye, surprised to find that the other girl had gone to her bed and was just sitting there, watching them. She was curious, but not enough to interrupt this little reunion. Sarah almost wished she would.
Then again, given that Crys most likely wasn't going to be very friendly with her, given who her boyfriend was, maybe that wasn't a good idea at all.
"I didn't mean to hurt anyone."
"Well, you did," Reid snapped and like that his calm façade was broken. "You. Fucking. Left. Left all of us to pick up the pieces of what was left of Caleb. Or did you think that he didn't care about you a lot, you know, with him telling you all about our dirty little secret?"
Sarah's eyes cut from Reid's glaring countenance over to Crys.
"She knows," Reid said, followed by a sharp laugh that had nothing to do with amusement. "You think Caleb's the only one that knows how to trust someone? Hell, even Kate knows now. Pogue told her a month after you made with the disappearing act."
"Oh," Sarah whispered. There it was. One of the big things that had made her break – her inability to talk to one of her best friends about what had happened. And now Kate knew. If she had only stuck around she would have had someone other than the Sons that she could talk to about everything.
It wouldn't have made a difference, she told herself. A future with Caleb was doomed from the start, not to mention how unsafe they all were.
Now Reid was here, though. How safe did that make her? Was it just a matter of time before something nasty came out of the darkness and got her again? For that matter –
"Is it just you? Here at school?" she said, unable to mask the trepidation that crept into her voice.
It wasn't the answer that Sarah had been expecting, if she had to be honest with herself. Why one of the Sons, much less more than one, would leave their families and friends was beyond her. They had that whole ancestral home things going for them – the type of old world history that most families couldn't even dream of possessing. Really she had only asked just to be sure, to confirm that Reid was the only one that had done something so unpredictable.
Reid smirked. "You want me to tell you? But then I'd miss out on the fun of knowing that you're wandering around, terrified of who might be around the next corner, sitting in your next class."
A pillow flew from across the room to smack Reid squarely in the side of the head. Sarah was so shocked that she laughed before she could stop herself, slapping a surprised hand over her mouth.
"Stop it," Crys snapped at her boyfriend, another pillow already in her hand. "You said it yourself – you're not mad at her. Quit being an ass." She turned her attention back to Sarah, face softening just a bit. "It's just Tyler. Him and Reid got a condo together a couple miles from school."
"Oh," was all that Sarah could manage. A part of her wanted to ask what the other two were off doing, where they were, how their lives were going; but there was still that bigger part of her that didn't want to think more about them than she had to.
Except, she supposed that wasn't going to be an option now. Here it was – her past come back to haunt her.
Hopefully not too literally.
Reid shot Crys an apologetic look, much to Sarah's surprise. She bit back a grin, all too aware that he wouldn't appreciate her knowing that he was very obviously wrapped around Crys' little finger.
"See you tomorrow?" he asked Crys. In that moment – when he was about to leave – she realized she'd miss him.
"Definitely," Crys confirmed with a grin, accepting the kiss that he crossed the room to give her. Sarah looked away, backing up until her legs hit the side of her bed. She sat down, suddenly very tired.
As he turned, Reid met Sarah's eyes. "I'll tell Tyler you said hi."
"It's pointless to ask you to keep this to yourself, isn't it?"
"Pretty much. We don't keep secrets from each other."
She knew that, which was why she hadn't really expected him to say he would. Sarah nodded slowly.
"Now," Reid said, the corner of his mouth twitching like he wanted to smile. "I'm not about to run home and dial Caleb up first thing, either. He'll know when he knows. I'll see you soon."
Which was about the nicest thing he could have said to her, just then, and Sarah was pretty sure that he knew it, judging by the smug look on his face. Between him not running off to tell Caleb and the fact that he'd all but demanded that she and he talk 'soon', she was a little dizzy with relief.
With that, Reid left, the door shutting softly behind him. Without even thinking about it, Sarah got up and locked it, her body on autopilot, old instincts coming back with a vengeance. She looked at the window, rubbing her arms as if she could warm them from the chill she felt. The window was locked, right? She went to check, just to be sure.
"I think I get it."
Sarah gave Crys a wary look. "Get what?"
"Why you left. You were scared. It's understandable."
There was a brief, fleeting urge to tell Crys all of it – the whys of how she had made her decision. But it was just a tiny urge, easy to squash. They hardly knew one another – definitely not well enough for her to pour out her heart, no matter how much she thought that maybe, just maybe, Crys might understand.
"That wasn't all of it," was all she said.
Crys nodded and sighed. "You looked wiped. Get some rest – we'll get to know each other tomorrow or whenever." She paused and looked down, picking at a spot on her blanket for a long moment. When she looked up, she was smiling ruefully. "Forgive me for being a bitch, because I get the feeling you just want to forget it all – but I'm sort of glad to have someone here that knows about them. I thought I'd go into withdrawal without Kate around to lend an ear."
And i that /i was a feeling that Sarah knew all too well; that need to have someone to chat with that you could actually talk to about the Sons and their crazy, magical life. It was something that she'd often wanted so much that she couldn't help but nod, even though the thought of talking about any of it made her feel a little sick to her stomach. This didn't mean she had to talk about her own fears or problems, she reminded herself. She offered Crys a brave smile. "Yeah – that'll be nice."
An hour later when she was lying in bed trying to sleep, Sarah wondered if she'd make it through all of this in better shape than she had last time. Because leaving – with a full scholarship to college on the line – just wasn't an option.
x x x x
Nightmares plagued her during the few hours of sleep that she managed to catch. When her alarm went off, vibrating with a gentle chime, to wake her, Sarah felt as if she'd barely gotten any rest at all. The nightmares were hardly a surprise – not with everything being brought up again the night before – she just wished that they could have been staved off so that she didn't show up to her first classes of her first year of college so tired she could barely keep her head up.
She managed to get dressed in record time, after dozing for fifteen minutes later than she meant to, and raced across campus to her first class. History. Boring. At this point she could only hope not to fall asleep since she hadn't had time to stop and grab a coffee during her hurried jog to class.
The professor was already there, arranging his lecture notes, when she slid into class. She blushed and glanced around the crowded room, heading unerringly towards the first empty chair that she spotted, not caring that it was in the very back of the room. That was actually good. Maybe if she fell asleep no one would notice. She dropped her bag quietly to the ground and pulled out a notebook and pen. Another student rushed in and Sarah didn't feel quiet as bad for being late. At least she wasn't the latest and it didn't look the professor was even ready to start yet.
Sarah paused, her history text half out of her backpack, and raised her eyes to the person in the chair next to her.
"Tyler," she breathed, eyes going wide with surprise. She sat up suddenly, letting the book drop back into the recesses of her pack.
"Reid told me you were here."
Sarah nodded, glancing around as discreetly as possible. The last of the empty desks had been taken by more late arrivals. Moving was out of the question.
"Last time I checked, I'd never given you a reason to be afraid of me."
The soft words startled Sarah into looking back at Tyler. Guilt blossomed in her chest and she sighed. "I'm not."
"Then why do you look like you're trying to figure out how to get away?" he asked in that same soft voice that had always made him seem so much younger than what he really was. Eighteen now. Ascended, too. His birthday had been the last of the four, taking place in the late spring, right before he graduated.
"Because –" she said, then stopped. Of all the unfair things she had done along the way, this had to be the worst of them. Tyler had been just as much of a friend to her as Reid had, even if in a more quiet and less obtrusive way. If he wasn't mad at her, then where did she get off treating him like he was a leper? She was going to see Tyler in this class two days a week and that wasn't going to change. So why couldn't she just act like maybe, just maybe, it was okay to talk to him, to be near him? It wasn't like she was living fear and nightmare free anymore, anyway. Another sigh. "I'm not, Tyler. If you don't mind me sitting here, that is. I mean, you know, after everything."
A slow smile stole over his lips. "I think I can allow it."
"Ha," Sarah laughed. "Smartass."
Tyler smirked and it was pure Reid. Those two really did hang out together too much. She wondered if Tyler had only come here because of the other Son or if he'd actually wanted to do this for himself at all.
Whether or not she would have asked that question never had a chance to happen, however, because the professor chose that moment to start class.