Disclaimer: Please see first chapter for disclaimer.
A/N: Huge, massive, giant hugs to all my readers and reviewers. I'm glad so many of you have enjoyed this it just makes me work faster and harder. Thanks for all the love and support! Enjoy :)
Recap: Jesse arrives to see how Suze is after her lil adventure with Heather the night before. Leading to a minor mis-understanding and a bit of an 'aw' moment between them both . . . Blink and you might miss it.
I stayed in Susannah's room for the better part of the morning, keeping vigil over her sleeping form. Hearing the heavy rise and fall of her deep breathing. I stayed there, even when her mother tried to wake her for school, knowing she wouldn't be for several hours yet.
I watched the world around me start to open and come to life, facing a fresh new day. For the first time in what felt like forever, my heart and mind felt lighter, more ready and capable to face anything. All knowing Susannah would be there should I need her, and me for her. I like to hope that facing Heather together had brought Susannah and myself closer. For me to be able to say, after a hundred and fifty years, I had a friend.
The thought made a smile instantly appear on my face. An action that had been occurring a lot more recently. But it was definitely soothing. Only adding to the light, comforting sensation I had been experiencing since Heather disappeared and Susannah arrived home safe.
I couldn't help but think that since my first meeting with Susannah, everything seemed a little bit different. Most things around me felt new and strange. Like I was no longer looking at things through a hazy film of blurred images.
The sun seemed to burn brighter than before. So much that I almost thought I could actually feel its warm rays on my skin. I could hear the waves so much clearer, as though I had something stuffed in my ears before and all sound was muffled. I feel the textures of things I touched. Like the coarse sensation of sand running through my fingers, or a blade of grass. Smooth and sleek upon the palm of my hand. Colour was more defined and I was certain I could taste the salty ocean air on my tongue.
All since that first tactile contact with Susannah.
She changed things for me in more ways than one. She made me feel as close to alive as I'll ever be able to be. The feelings she set off within me. Most new and foreign to my bruised ego and mind. Susannah sparked sentiments in me I haven't felt in so long I thought they were merely a myth. Even when I feel anger and annoyance, laughter and humor. All the emotions I thought would be impossible for me to ever anticipate again. That I believed were ripped away, the same night my life was.
Susannah, I'm sure had no idea what kind of chain reaction she had set off within me. She probably had no idea how grateful I was to have had her walk into my 'life'. Which was why I was so determined to help and protect her. To repay the gratitude that she has so gracefully placed upon me.
Before Susannah had arrived, the days and the nights all blurred into one. Time wasn't a concept for me anymore. I was dead, there was nothing for me anywhere except an old run down boarding house. Tied to a bedroom, I didn't think I would ever be comfortable in ever again. To feel what it was like to be in a family home.
And then Susannah appeared and everything I ever thought, felt and mattered to me in my long absence from the living; vanished. Never to appear again, just swept away within moments. Leaving nothing behind for me to cling onto. Paving the way for fresh, new beginnings. Fate granting me a reprieve from the loneliness and the sorrow that day by day was slowly eating away at me.
But I was given a chance to redeem myself, in a certain young mediator girl. Whose attitude and demeanour shouted independence and strength and gave me the chance to open my eyes to the new world around me. Susannah threw me an opportunity that would have been stupid of me to have missed.
I latched my eyes back onto Susannah, hearing her start to stir and bringing me out of my flyaway thoughts. She was slowly waking up and no doubt would be a little sore from her adventure last night. I needed to speak to her, but I didn't want to do it when she wasn't awake properly. So I took myself out of there, to give Susannah privacy and myself some space.
I took myself back to the beach the perfect place to find solace. Sitting on a remote part of the sand away from the living so I wasn't disturbed. I didn't want to ponder over all my musing anymore. Going over the same things that have been occupying most of the thoughts I have been having all morning and day. I just wanted to be able to immerse myself in the beauty that was all around me. By-passing the bad and concentrating on the good, like Susannah.
I don't know how long I sat there for. Not thinking about anything, just observing. Daydreaming, letting the world pass around me. A gentle smile fluttering across my face every now and then. Watching the sun start to drop down low over the horizon. Painting the sky, with tones of pink, red and orange. All blending into one that made me grateful I had always had such spectacular display to watch every day. That no matter what happened, the sunrise and sunset would always be there.
After watching the sunset a bit longer, I took myself back to see Susannah, suddenly anxious to see her again. It had been quite awhile since I'd left and I knew we needed to talk. I believed it was easier to get it out of the way and find out the answer to a specific question I had for her.
I appeared in her room, leaning patiently against her bed post, arms crossed over my chest. I found Susannah sitting on the window seat with the breeze coming through the window, ruffling her hair. She seemed to have been deep in thought, her legs propped in front of her, with her chin resting on her upraised knees. Just staring unblinking into the setting sky.
She jumped when she realized I was there, whipping her head around, placing her hand over her heart trying to slow her racing heartbeat. "Jeez!" Susannah whispered, with rapid breathing at being surprised by my sudden appearance. "Do you have to keep on doing that?" She asked.
Fighting to stop a full-grown smirk come to my face I kept my expression neutral, but knew my amusement was showing in my dark eyes. "I'm sorry." I said an automatic response to her exclamation. She must have been seeing ghosts since she was a child, but she still got frightened and surprised when one miraculously appeared in front of her.
"Look," She said. "If you and I are going to be living together – so to speak – we need to come up with some rules. And rule number one is that you have to stop sneaking up on me like that." Susannah informed me. So she had relented to let me stay in her bedroom. That was a relief I hadn't realized was worrying me. I didn't exactly look forward to having to go somewhere else to stay. I have a connection with this room, whether I like it or not. But luckily she had warmed up to me, just like I hoped she would.
Humor dripping from my tone, I asked Susannah. "And how do you suggest I make my presence known?" My mind half trying to think up some way to alert her. I was just enjoying the easy banter and relaxed ease with her I couldn't come to care for any other thing at that point as I relished the moment while I still could. I was in such a good mood I didn't want to spoil it.
"I don't know," Susannah said, sarcasm coming into play after she detected my amusement. "Can't you rattle some chains or something?" She asked, apparently unable to come up with an answer either. Or maybe like myself, not really caring.
I shook my head at her. "I don't think so. What would rule number two be?" I asked, curiosity getting the better of me. Seeing how far she would go with these 'rules' that would have to apply to my being given permission to staying in her room.
"Rule number two . . ." Susannah's trailed off.
She just sat there, staring at me with open interest. Her eyes tracing my every feature and move. Trying to memorize my face, as if I was going to suddenly disappear forever. I'd even noticed Susannah staring at the scar through my eyebrow many times. I could see her just itching to ask how I came to have it. Probably expecting it to have been given in a fight, or something else heroic. Quite far from the actual truth. But I wouldn't tell, until she asked.
I lifted said eyebrow at her in question. "Something wrong, querida?" I broke through her daydream. She blinked at me, breaking herself out of her wandering thoughts, but still not taking her eyes of my still form. She didn't answer me. But judging by the look in her eyes, she seemed to be debating asking me something. Eventually she shook her head and her face appeared more relaxed again.
A question I'd been burning to know came to my mind. I had been anxious to ask her since the nigh before. But I wanted to wait until today when I thought she would be more inclined to listen and answer. "Let me ask you something," I started, waiting for Susannah's approval.
"What?" She asked cautiously. She threw down the booklet she had been holding and stood up. Facing my question head on like I expected her too. Though I suspected from her cautious tone, she wasn't sure what my question would be.
"Last night, when you warned me not to go near the school because you were doing an exorcism . . ." I slowly said, not sure what kind of answer to expect. Or what I hoped to hear.
Susannah eyed me, still suspicious of my sudden enquiry. "Yes?"
"Why did you warn me?" I quickly got out in a rush, staying where I was leaning against her bed. Keeping all thoughts and emotions below the surface, so Susannah couldn't see how vulnerable I felt asking her such a simple request. I tried not to read too much into it. Hoping she did it as a friendly gesture just worried for me.
To my utter shock and amazement, Susannah laughed. The first time I had heard Susannah properly laugh. It was at me, but still . . . It sent shivers racing through me. Like, I had been walking through the darkness, stumbling and lost. When out of no-where this bright, blinding light overtook every shadow surrounding me and within. It left me as speechless as when I first saw her smile. Both actions staying ingrained in my memory forever.
"I warned you because if you'd gone down there you would have been sucked away just like Heather." Susannah informed me, laughter still clear in her tone. I knew that, but I wanted to know why.
Somehow managing to find my voice, I couldn't help but wonder. "But wouldn't that have been a perfect way to get rid of me? You'd have this room to yourself, just the way you want it." I told her.
Susannah looked back with a look akin to horror on her beautiful features. "But that - that would have been completely unfair!" Susannah cried. Not the most convincing of reasons and I wondered if she saw me as a friend. And if her nervous reply was to hide that. I finally let the smile I had been trying to hold back unabashedly break free.
"I see. Against the rules?" I asked, fondness coating my question like thick syrup.
"Yeah," Susannah said. "Big time." I could feel my affection for Susannah growing with her little announcement. Warming me through and making my smile escalate. A teasing thought entered my mind then.
"Then you didn't warn me – " I asked, straightening up from my casual position leaning against the bed and taking one step towards Susannah. " – because you're starting to like me or anything like that?" I teased. Much to my delight, I saw a faint blush shimmering across Susannah's cheeks. Obviously becoming embarrassed by my innocent insinuation of how she felt about me.
"No," Susannah replied stubbornly. "Nothing like that. I'm just trying to play by the rules. Which you violated, by the way, when you woke up David." Susannah said defiantly. Raising her chin to look at me, daring me to deny the claim. Quickly changing the subject I noticed. Waking David turned out to be the right thing to do in the end anyway. I wasn't backing down from this one.
I took another step towards Susannah, letting my arms drop to my sides so I didn't come across too over bearing. I knew how tall I was and how sometimes it could become intimidating. I didn't wish to come across as anything like this in Susannah's presence if I could help it.
"I had to. You'd warned me not to go down to the school myself. What choice did I have? If I hadn't sent your brother in my place to help you," I pointed out to Susannah, with a knowing smirk on my face. "You'd be a bit dead now." She knew as well as I did, that it was the truth.
"No way," Susannah said, shaking her head at my claim. "I had things perfectly under control. I –"
"You had nothing under control." I laughed, cutting her off from her plight. "You went barrelling in there without any sort of plan without any sort of – "
"I had a plan," Susannah said furiously, taking an angry step towards me, bringing us nearly nose-to-nose. "Who do you think you are, telling me I had no plan? I've been doing this for years, get it? Years. And I never needed help, not from anyone. And certainly not from someone like you."
I stopped laughing then. The smile fell from my face instantly and the air rushed out of my lungs. Like I had been sucker punched in the stomach. Anger flowed into me so quickly it took me by surprise. It was like a storm had been creeping up on us and then hitting with the full force of a hurricane. Clouding my thoughts and my judgement.
"Someone like me? You mean – what was it you called me? A cowboy?" I hissed. My tone telling of how annoyed I was at her harsh retort.
"No," Susannah said. "I mean from somebody who's dead." I flinched, as though she had reached out and struck me. My anger instantly started evaporating, to be left with a gaping wound across my pride and my heart. I shouldn't have been surprised. It wasn't the first time she'd made a crude comment like that.
No. What hurt the most was that after all we'd been through she still felt she had to retaliate to protect herself. That was what she was doing. Putting up barriers and walls to try and keep me out. Lashing out and causing me pain to keep me at a distance. It hurt, that she would want to do that. That she couldn't accept me and what I was offering.
To be a friend.
"Let's make rule number two be that from now on, you stay out of my business, and I'll stay out of yours," Susannah said. Stubbornness still shining through, like a shroud descending on the good mood I had been in. The light feeling that had been lifting me all day.
I thought it over for a second, trying to get everything back in control. I couldn't stay out of her life. Not when it came to ghosts. I was involved now. I couldn't in good conscience walk away from that. Worrying every second of what trouble she could be in. Susannah is a good person I saw it in her the first moment we met. If only she could see it too.
I may have been stinging from her comment and still a little angry at her defiance, but I couldn't do as she asked. But to save going into another battle of wills, I agreed. "Fine," I quietly said. I pulled back slightly, giving both of us some space to breath and calm down. Why do we always manage to end in an argument? I asked myself.
"Fine," Susannah said. "And thank you." She finished.
I was still angry, but couldn't help but ask. "For what?" I sullenly said.
"For saving my life."
Susannah quietly replied. I completely deflated then. All the anger and hurt I felt, vanished with those few quiet words. The smile swept back onto my face as surely as if it never left. More pronounced and deeper than before. Affection quickly pushing away the un-wanted hostile feelings Susannah had been projecting. Fighting off the grey areas of my mind. Making me want to reach out and pull her into my embrace and never let her push me away again. No matter how hard she tried.
I settled for reaching out and laying my hands on Susannah's shoulders, looking down into her sparkling green eyes. She was pulling me in, she was so open to letting me in to how she was feeling. And if I was reading it right; even an apology. She looked so vulnerable right then, looking up at me like that. For a split second I could feel myself leaning into Susannah. Leaning into her warmth, to her touch and her captivating presence.
Our emotions and feelings so mingled and mixed together, I didn't know who's belonged to whom.
Just like that first day we met, my vision blurred and narrowed, leaving me with a clear and precise image of just Susannah in my sight. Everything else around us vanishing into nothing, but just the two of us. A living breathing girl and an hundred and fifty year old ghost, so lost in each other's gaze, neither could break away.
I heard Susannah take a shuddering breath, bringing my garbled mind back to the present. Blinking to clear my sight, I faintly heard the front door opening. "Susannah?" I heard her mother call up the stairs, followed by her light footsteps. "Suzie, its Mom. I'm home."
I pulled away from Susannah slightly and looked back into her eyes. She looked slightly dazed and confused herself. Suppressing the urge to laugh at her expression, I gave her shoulders a quick reassuring squeeze and dropped my hands. I could hear her mother coming along the hallway to her room, so I gave Susannah one last small smile of gratitude and left just as her mother entered the room.
I found myself outside Susannah's house, situated by the porch stairs, looking down over Carmel. My eyes instantly finding the sparkling blue calm and serene ocean, mirroring my thoughts and feelings. I didn't know what to make of what just happened in Susannah's room. Or what would have happened if her mother hadn't have interrupted. But I definitely knew things were going to get better between Susannah and myself.
I saw that much in her eyes. She does see me as a friend and by that she couldn't have given me a more precious gift.
I watched the sun finally sink behind the ocean, with it taking the pain and suffering I had been feeling for so long. Parting with a promise of new beginnings for Susannah and myself, that would come with tomorrows rising sun.
Susannah thanked me for saving her life. I wonder if she'll ever know, that she saved mine first. Only time will tell. And that's one thing I have plenty of, querida.
A/N 2: Thanks for reading, please review and let me know what you thought. Take care. Peace out.
Coming up soon: Suze gets awoken by a screaming woman and isn't very polite. Jesse makes a short appearance and comments on Suze's lack of Mediation skills . . . and about his own spectral visitor, by the name of a Mr. Peter Simon . . .