Such long waits before updates. I'm so sorry! D=
Chapter 38 - Tired of the Chase
An annoying clanking noise was waking Schuyler every time she was on the cusp of falling back asleep. At first, she had thought it was an alarm clock, but its sound was too erratic. It may have been pipes, pipes that kept hitting against each other for no apparent reason other than to annoy her.
Wake up. Clank. Wake up. Clank.
Schuyler groaned and turned away from the sound, only to be greeted with something bright, turning the insides of her eyelids red. Pulling a knit blanket closer to her chest, she twisted until her position was once again comfortable, away from the light.
Schuyler groaned again, kicking the armrest with a frustrated grunt.
Wait a minute. Blanket? Sleep?
Schuyler's eyes shot open and she found herself, once again, in an unfamiliar place.
She had been sleeping on a lumpy, olive-colored couch. The living room of a moderately-sized loft, in which she had been placed, was decorated to the barest minimum. There was a single end table to her left, an over-sized paned-glass window to her right. The only other piece of furniture was an outdated-looking TV set, its screen blank and dusty. The small living room was connected to an open kitchen. Between the two was also a closed door to another room, which she guessed would be a bedroom.
Carefully sitting up, Schuyler felt her muscle strain, a dull pain shooting up her back. She caught her reflection on the blank TV screen and then it hit her. The discomfort and pain was not fully the couch's fault.
Schuyler stared back at her reflection on the screen. Getting beat up on numerous occasions by Silver Bloods, that were genetically stronger than you, certainly contributed to the ache in her bones.
She thought back to the moment before she passed out, she had seen….Allegra! Schuyler tossed the knit blanket off and jumped to her feet. Ignoring the ache in her all joints, she searched her surroundings. The small loft apartment had brick walls throughout. The kitchen and living room was divided by an island counter with three empty stools lined along its side.
Clank. Squeak. Clank.
A glance out the window gave her little. The sky was clear, a vibrant deep blue, the sun shone brightly overhead. Her surroundings looked to be an abandoned industrial neighborhood, encompassed by thick, expansive, woods.
Suddenly, a scuffle nearby alerted her. Schuyler hurried over to the nearby kitchen area, putting the island between her and the front door.
The door to the apartment suite slid open horizontally, the heavy metal slab creaking as it was being pulled. With a loud clang, it was completely opened and a small group of people filed in, each carrying white plastic grocery bags.
A blonde young girl strolled in, humming a mystery tune. She had a single bag in hand, a stuff toy dog in the other. She couldn't have been more than ten years old. Behind her, a teen male walked in with what must have been at least eight bags.
"My god, this one is so much bigger than ours."
"Judging from the fact that they could have just let us rot, I'm not complaining."
"Make sure they get the water bottles upstairs. Mary's been complaining about it for the last three days." The boy grunted, looking to be about Schuyler's age.
An older woman behind him rolled her eyes, "Then why doesn't Mary go get the damn things herself." Her voice had a hint of a Southern accent.
"You know how they can be." The male smirked and unsuccessfully tried make a mocking gesture with all those grocery bags in tow. He walked towards the kitchen island and lifted the bags onto the counter.
Schuyler took a hesitant step back and the movement finally caught the boy's eye. They both stayed in place, their eyes glued on each other. Schuyler couldn't help but fall into a defensive position. The move made the boy widen his eyes as he took a careful step back.
"Angie, honey, you can't just leave the bag there." The older woman spoke to the little girl, oblivious to Schuyler's presence.
"Nana, who's that?" Angie's crystal blue eyes tracked across Schuyler's body.
"Hm? Oh dear, we assumed the apartment was empty."
Schuyler eyed the two others. From experience now, she could tell the difference between Red Bloods and Vampires. And these people were definitely human, but it didn't mean they weren't dangerous.
She must have had a frightening look on her. The older woman pulled the Angie to her side. And the little girl clutched the toy dog to her chest.
"We mean no harm." The older woman said. "We were told to bring the stuff up here,"
"Where am I?" Schuyler's voice came out even and low.
"Where…" The older woman's sentence died on her lips, confusion taking its place. "Tyler, I think you should get on over here. Right now."
The teen boy nodded and hurried over to their side. Schuyler definitely must have had a frenzied expression on her face. Or the Red Bloods wouldn't be so alarmed. At this point, she no longer cared.
"Where am I?" Schuyler tried again with more force, but was only met with silent, frightened faces.
And then the stalemate was ended as another person entered the loft.
"At the moment, you're in a renovated warehouse in Fullerton, Pennsylvania." The sound of her voice nearly stopped Schuyler's heart. And when the ethereal face of her mother emerged from the doorway, Schuyler found she had a hard time concentrating over blood rushing in her ears. It wasn't a hallucination. She was real, her mother was awake.
There was no fighting the moisture collecting in Schuyler's eyes and she struggled to keep her emotions in check, "Mom."
"Will you excuse us for a moment?" Allegra smiled politely at the Red Bloods. "I have some catching up to do with my daughter."
The three didn't need to be told twice and they scurried out the door, closing it quickly, forgetting the grocery bags they left behind. The second the door clicked closed; Schuyler rushed over to Allegra, dropping any pretenses of strength she had erected, throwing her arms around her mother.
"Sweetheart," Allegra murmured into her hair. "It's alright."
Oh how Schuyler wished it were true. But she was willing to pretend for the time being. Those three simple words from her mother echoed in her mind and Schuyler broke out a sob, clutching Allegra tighter.
Schuyler could not stop staring, her gaze never leaving Allegra's face. She knew Allegra had noticed this, but her mother said nothing, so she continued staring. Maybe it was the fear that if she looked away at any moment, Allegra would disappear.
They sat together on the couch, trying to get used to being together again. Even after all this time, Allegra was beautiful. There were no signs that the Archangel had been under coma for over a decade.
Schuyler watched as her mother took a sip of the tea they had prepared after putting the refrigerated groceries away. Allegra's long slender fingers clutched the mug as she brought it back down to her lap. Schuyler had only taken a couple sips of hers before putting it down, her mind too preoccupied to enjoy it.
The young Half-Blood tried to recount everything that had happened, but the lengths of the events were just too much for her tired brain to muster. So Allegra got the cliff notes version.
It was difficult gauging Allegra's reaction, her expression remained stoic even when Schuyler started talking about their escape to Europe. When Schuyler finally finished, Allegra returned the favor, informing her about what happened on the U.S front when she had been away.
They were holed up in this safe house, in a remote town two hours from New York, building a resistance against the Silver Bloods. There were several factions of underground Blue Blood groups throughout the U.S and the rest of the world. But communication between the groups was shoddy at best. That was to be expected.
The Red Blood themselves were still in the dark. The U.S government had still not been able to confirm what the Silver Bloods were. But that didn't stop the media from spinning outlandish stories from calling the attack an act of foreign terrorism to tales of an alien invasion.
Apparently, a couple gossip rags were correct in calling out the supernatural, but Red Bloods easily disregarded the unbelievable, even if it was a popular theme in their Hollywood movies.
New York had been quarantined after the government was sure the attack had originated from there. It was also in New York that Blue Blood intelligence placed Bliss and her Silver Bloods.
Subsequent Silver Blood outbreaks occurred after the first attack. With every passing day, the Silver Blood were making advancements, the attacks becoming more frequent, pushing every major city into chaos and anarchy. They all had underestimated the organization of the Silver Bloods. And no one was safe.
"You haven't been hearing a word I've said, have you?"Allegra grinned.
"It's just a lot to take in." Schuyler blushed. She looked away and remembered the last year of her life and what it had been like. "It's been tough."
"I know. But I'm so proud you Schuyler. You've handled this better than I could have hoped."
Schuyler looked up to find Allegra giving her an odd look.
"You're strong. And you'll be stronger, with time."
"Doesn't seem like it." Schuyler murmured.
"Don't lose faith." Allegra placed her mug of tea on the end table. "We'll have to try and do as much training as we can. There isn't much time. But we'll make do."
"Training?" that piqued Schuyler's interest.
"We'll discuss it later. You need rest." Allegra placed a gentle hand on her knee as she stood, giving Schuyler a squeeze. "And I'm sure you would like to see how Jack is doing?"
Schuyler knew her cheeks would be burning red, so she looked away. It sounded like maybe Allegra had let out a laugh, but Schuyler couldn't be sure.
"He's in there." Allegra nodded at the door between the kitchen and living room. "Jack took a nasty fall, so he'll need another day or so of recovery. But he'll be fine."
All thanks to their supernatural regeneration. Schuyler stared at the door and then met Allegra's gaze, "Thank you."
"Don't thank me just yet." Allegra called out as she moved to put away the rest of the grocery.
"Take the rest of the day off. Though I expect you to be well rested tomorrow morning and you'll report promptly downstairs for training."
Schuyler sighed and nodded. No rest for the wicked. She moved towards the door, her hand had just touched the door knob when Allegra spoke up again.
"Kitchen's stocked, feel free to walk around and get acquainted with everyone here," Her mom's back was to her as she closed a cabinet door. With the last bag put away, Allegra turned for the exit with a knowing nod. "And…leave the door open."
Schuyler nearly laughed at that. After everything they had just spoken about, this mother-daughter exchange was the closest thing to normalcy.
"Got it," Schuyler shifted uncomfortably and turned the knob. She slowly opened the door and peered into the room. As the front door to the loft slid closed behind her, Schuyler quietly entered the room.
It was dark, but she could see him on the bed with his eyes closed. And even though Allegra had said something, Schuyler pushed the door until there was only enough room for her hand to pass through. It was still open, technically speaking.
Her heart lurched at the sight of Jack all bandaged up, a blanket covering him from the neck down. The various cuts across his face from the glass window he was thrown out of became more obvious as she stepped closer towards the bed. She'd bet there would be similar bloody cuts on the rest of this body.
Schuyler stood over him, watching his chest rise and fall. Her hand reached out and she brushed her knuckles across an unharmed cheek. The contact made her desperate for more and her skin felt odd and empty when she pulled her hand away.
Jack looked to be deep asleep. She didn't want to bother him. But she needed this, needed him. She walked to the other side of the twin bed since he was occupying most of the right side. Pulling the covers out enough for her to sneak under, she moved carefully and made sure not to jostle him.
Schuyler double checked for any major injuries and found none. She laid down next to him, pulling the covers back up over them. For a moment, she watched the side of his face, but he stayed asleep.
She pressed her cheek to his arm, her body flush against him, her hands closed around his left hand, and finger entwined with his. She closed her eyes and listened to his even breathing.
She let out a sigh and relaxed. She would even say it was peaceful. But it wasn't because of the silence of the room or the steadiness of Jack's heartbeat. It was because, in a very long time, Schuyler's own heart and mind was calm and at peace. They were safe, they were home. And while there still was a war to be fought, at least they weren't on the run anymore. They had help, they had each other.
She hugged Jack's arm and whispered against his skin, "We'll be okay."
Schuyler felt more rested when she woke up this time around and noticed that she hadn't moved much since falling asleep. Her legs had gotten entangled with Jack's, but that was to be expected. They always woke up like that, in a tangled mess. She looked up to Jack's profile and was surprised to find his eyes open and staring at the ceiling. Squeezing his hand, she repositioned her head near his shoulder.
Jack turned to her and his green gaze was intense, searching her face for something she wished she knew. She would give him the answer in a heartbeat. "You okay?"
He answered her with a single nod, the movement so minuscule that she thought she had imagined it. And then, when she was about to speak up, his fingers squeezed her back. His grip tightened and he sighed, long and hard.
Maybe the chaos of the last couple months finally caught up with him. Maybe Jack was having a hard time bouncing back from their last battle. Whatever it was, it unnerved her.
She realized she had been staring at his chin and looked up. His expression was pained, his mouth moved over silent words, as if he couldn't decide on what he wanted to say. Then it looked like he had made a decision. But instead of speaking, he pulled his hand out of hers and shifted, wincing as he moved.
Schuyler moved to scoot back, but was stopped when Jack's arms went around her, pulling her to his chest. She could feel his breath on her forehead as she reached around to back and rubbed circles on his shoulder blades. She pulled her head back and looked up at him.
He looked tired. And it was not that "I was thrown out a third story window and haven't been sleeping well" brand of tired. It was that all pervasive kind of weariness that seemed almost bone-deep. Schuyler had this overwhelming feeling to just hold him and never let go.
And then, they heard the sound of the front door opening, but she couldn't tear her eyes off of him.
"Hello? Rise and shine! Are we up yet?"
"More importantly, are we dressed and not about to mentally scar innocent bystanders?"
Schuyler rolled her eyes at Oliver's sarcastic voice ringing into the bedroom. With a heavy exhale, she pulled away, her fingers tracing along Jack's arm. "I'll go see what they want."
Jack's hand caught hers just as she was about to pull away. With a tug, she went back down and his lips touched hers the moment after that. It was a simple kiss, but its effect still packed a powerful punch. Before things would get out of hand, they pulled back with a grin, both feeling a little bit more like themselves.
"Hello?" An impatient Oliver called out. "Seriously, don't make me come in there."
"Hold on!" Schuyler called out and shook her head disapprovingly before making her way to the door.
A/N: Writing this chapter and the working on the next was like pulling teeth.
The end is near, well of the fic that is. Let me know what you think, leave me predictions, let's see how close you all will be. =D