Red Sky

By Morbid Drama Queen 10 "Dania"

Claimer: These characters don't really belong to anybody, but what's mine is mine. Hands off!

2012 edit: Fixed tenses, going throught to revise and familiarize myself with the piece before I continue. Sorry about the year long hiatus. I'm not gone, just...distracted...

-XXX-

"Ma-aa-ma's girl," the slim blonde behind me drawls as she makes the long stride down the row of desks. Her slight, lithe southern dialect makes me tighten my grip on the text book I'm currently balancing. Erin, our gossip-girl cheerleading captain, notorious for her love of torment. Practical jokes, snotty insults, boyfriend stealing, gossiping, general whore-ish behavior, just to name of few of her delightful pasts times. And today her focus is on me. What a surprise.

I turn slowly, deliberate in my motions. She might be Queen Bee of the field and rule the locker room, but this was my turf. The class room. Surely she couldn't be so stupid as to pick on my in my mother's class room. Ag.

Why Erin was talking it I hadn't the slightest clue, but that was beside the point. She really had picked the wrong hour to mess with me. Either the girl had a death wish, or was a few brain cells short of a memory gland. For god's sake, had she really not noticed how our last names were identical? How my mom played favourites with me? Or was she really that stupid?

Then again, it's not like I was taking the class out of any personal choice. I like gardening okay, but dirt, corn, and cows just aren't my thing.

"Erin I start coldly, but Diana cut me off with a sharp "flip you."

Only, she didn't say "flip." Not that I cared. Not that this comment was directed toward me. It was, of course, all Erin's.

Instead of cowering in fear, as I would have if Diana Hunt had said any thing of that nature with half that venom toward me, Erin merely grins nastily. She wasn't afraid of much. Something else that supported my "lack-of-brain-cells" theory. Everyone was afraid of Diana when she was in a mood.

"Naughty, naughty," the monster cooes. Lowering her voice from it's normal high pitched squeak, she says, "I don't think your future in-law would appreciate that kind of language."

Before Diana can lash out, I grab her arm, dragging her to the opposite side of the room. "Buzz off, hoe." I growl back to Erin. Diana barely struggles, but stares wordlessly back at Erin, silent threats rebounding in her hazel eyes like ice crystals. Diana doen't need anymore ISS time, she already had a week's worth this year, due to her constant and loyal protection of me.

The lesbian comment had really hits home. When it got around school two years ago that Di was going to be a virgin forever and hated guys, a lot of people started calling her lesbian. Diana never saw it as an insult, since she never thought there was anything wrong with homosexuality per say, but if anyone mentioned me as part of the insult…she got a little testily. We hung out a ton, so everyone made assumptions...

Which likely explained why I was single and have never had a date in my life.

"Di," I say, staring at her. "Di, you don't need to do that, I had it under control, I was about-"

"Blonde," Diana murmurs. Only, it wasn't blonde, but another word that started with "B". "She's go no-"

"Di!" I say, exasperated. "Really. I was fine. She wasn't going to get away with it, it wasn't a big deal!"

My friend looks down at me pityingly, shaking her head in a "ah-naive-sweet-little-Kari-of-course-it-wasn't" sort of way. I've been getting these kind of looks and head shake-combos for a while now, from a variety of people.

"Ri, you weren't going to. We both know that. You are so not assertive." Di takes the seat across from me, dropping her messenger bag down with a "klunck". She does a once over of the room, and upon seeing that my mother is still occupied, flicks her gaze back to me and leans in.

"We have more important things to discuss," she says crisply.

"Like…?"

"The dance!" she replies brightly. "You've got to go with me this year, it's so much fun! We can get dress together next week-"

"No. Way. In. Hell." I say firmly. "You can go with your posse. I'll help you find a dress maybe offer hair tips, but I will not accompany you to that yearly ritual of mindless socializing. What would I do? Dance? Uh, hell-o, lame." It wasn't even real dancing, just swaying around. And there was never any good music to sway to.

"We don't have to dance. We can mingle. It's strictly social. To meet guys. No biggie. C'mon Kari! We can guy scope."

"I thought you were stay virgin forever?"

"That doesn't mean I can't have some fun. Making out and dance isn't giving away your freedom. Just giving you a good time. Now stop changing the subject." She puts the full force of her puppy dog eyes on me. "Please please please PLEASE go with me? I'll be lonely without you there." For effect, she even gave a small whimper.

I, in turn, rolls my eyes. I am more than used to Diana's drama queen life. It was how she got our principal, Dr. Zuko, charmed into excusing her from detention on multiple occasions.

"I really don't want to," I begin, but her face, so full of misery and melancholy, melted my heart. Again. She really has no one else to hang with...

"Fine," I sigh. "Fine. I'll go-"

Di squeals loudly, earning some odd looks from other students, and leans over the desks to hug me.

"But," I say into her shoulder. "no dress."

At that moment my mother raps her pointer on the bored to call the class to attention. As the class takes a while to settle down, she beings class with a firm hand.

"Kari, dear, why don't you give us an example of your essay?"

Slouching from my desk, I stand to address the class on the finger points of irrigation.

Maybe this was why everyone hates me. My mother obviously picks favourites with me, her DAUGHTER! Did she realize what she was doing? I bet she des. It's to make sure I got the "Right Friends" because who, but the bravest, would be friends with a teacher pet?

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The music sucks. Big time. Some rap and screamo-heavy metal rock that no one can dance to. Not that I was planning to anyway, but other people were disgruntled. Which annoys me more than a little. Who ever was on the Student Government Board either was playing a prank, or had been high while picking the playlist. Really, really high.

Like I said, nobody is dancing.

You would have figured that after nearly thirty minutes if this the D.J. would get a clue, but no. He is still on his head set, banging along, trying to look cool. And was so failing. Herman Wright, class loser and practical joker. Obviously this is his brilliant work.

This leaves most couples to mill about the dining area of the ballroom, where tables are set up. Sprinkled with hearty doses of glitter, each table features a glass urn filled with coloured plastic in the shape of crystals and fresh-cut red roses. Clutches and cameras are piled high on each tabletop, heels and sandles litter the floor around the chairs. Walking through is like entering a mine field-you have to step very, very carefully, lest you hurt someone's Prada.

I stand against a wall, not in, but close to a dark corner. Di had left not to long ago, set on mingling and to find a few other friends. After doing everything but forcibly drag me, she'd left in huff. Helpful, because if Mom were to search for me via best friend, she wouldn't be so lucky.

Oh, yeah, that's right. I forgot. My mom is chaperoning the prom. For the first time. All for me. She's breathing down my neck constantly. Nobody else's mom stalks them to their school dances. Not even Erin's mom, the drama teacher. It's no wonder I don't have a date.

Not that I want one, either. I mean, sure, it would have been nice. But there aren't that many guys in our school that would be deemed "acceptable" by my mother. Mostly cause they're all scared of her, or because they really are unacceptable losers.

It'd had a few offers to dance-the only one I'd considered was Will, one of my dearest friends. But his date, a petite sophmore in a slinky black dress, her eyes heavy with black glittery makeup, didn't look too happy. Of course, she was across the room, massaging her feet.

"Platform stilettos?" I ask, sympathetic.

"Yeah...Annie wanted to be a bit closer to my height for pictures." He winces. "Sure you don't want to go out? I heard they're about to play shout?"

I decline. "Nah. You go on. Annie looks lonely. And hot, might I add. What are you guys doing after?"

"Movie, probably. Maybe go for ice cream or Ihop. Depends on our mood." Will grins. "Don't be a stranger."

I promise I won't. He returns to his date, leaving me to smooth my skirts and try to tune out the horrid pounding of...something.

Another thing-I am wearing a dress. Apparently only gowns and tuxedos are allowed at The Prom Di says it with reverence, as though it is THE Prom, with full caps) I offered to wear the former, at least it had pants, but no! Diana says because I agreed to go, I agreed to all that entails, dress included. And shoes. And accessories. And make-up.

Really, Di isn't all that much of a girly-girl, but she wanted to go all out for her senior prom. And I mean all out. We rent a convertible, had dinner at the most exclusive restaurant, Club Green, at the golf club where her parents belong to the wealthy golfing-sailing-hunting club. I'll be babysitting all summer to pay off the credit card bills.

Anyways, the dress. The dress was white with eyelet trim, and a pink silk sash. It was empire waist with cap sleeves, silky material, with some stylish pink lace at the bottom hem matching the sash. Scoop neck, stopping at my ankles (the skirt, not the neck line. Yikes!), Diana said it made me look innocent. Was that a good thing?

So here I stand, bored out of my mind, wondering if Di had already stained her green mini halter with punch, when I make the mistake of helping another person.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

She is breathtaking.

It isn't just the dress either, or the hair, or the make up, no, she is always like this. Always.

I should know; I've been watching her for years. I know her physical appearance by now, her profile and back, the arch of her neck and swell of her cheeks. Tonight she is at her best. The Hunt girl had done well.

Scanning the crowd, her eyes meet mine for a brief second, then move on. I'm struck. Beautiful. Like spring. Bright golden, with flecks of green bringing them to life. Perfect. Just like she was.

I heard her talking that day, to her friend Diana, the Hunt girl, about being here. Diana had ruined my plan of rescuing Kari from Erin, but she did do me one service—convincing Kari to go to the prom, another vital in my plan, almost filling the gap she made. Though, originally Kari would have arrived on my arm instead of with a gaggle of teen girls, and she would be talking of dancing with me, instead of leaning on that wall, doing her best to ignore that awful excuse for music.

Two weeks of attending that damned high school, wasted.

Still, the plan was going nicely. I would have her. In only a matter of time it would all be complete.

Valerie, my accomplice, is suddenly before me, on the arm of her date, Ron, who was the local wiz of tech class. I'd had the fortune of meeting Val on my second day of class. Charming, beautiful, weak-willed, she was more than ready to enter into my service. Val smiles easily, and I give her a short nod. Her smile widens and she moves on, whispering to her boyfriend, who is about a head shorter than her, the plan. Confused, Ron nods, and lets go of her arm.

Phase two is in action.

Right on cue, Val begins sobbing. Loudly. Well, I did pick the class drama queen for a reason. Everyone turns, stopping their current affairs to look in on the soap opera unfolding before them. This is what prom is truly about.

"H-how c-could yoooou?" Valerie cries abruptly, throwing an arm out theatrically. Ron does his best, really, but there was no stopping Val when she got started. She was, after all, the drama ueen.

Now staging rage, she slapped Ron on the cheek and high-tails it to the bathrooms, in a flurry of blonde curls and red silk. Nobody knows what Ron had done, but many give him the evil eye anyways. Val is a class favorite, if anyone pissed her off they were giving an offense to everyone.

My flower, my Kari, looks after the swinging door to the ladies' room with concern in her eyes. She decides to follow, possibly to help, maybe to get good gossip, though she really isn't one to spread the disease of the mouth. Or, so I've been told. Sweet girl. The door closes behind her, snapping shut, unlike it did for Val. It is locked in place, unyielding to all others. Good girl. She'd done exactly what I had predicted-tender-hearted Karianna follows the hurt popular girl, hoping to easy any injury.

The plan was most defiantly working.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"Val?" I call out, peering into the florescent bright room, blinking. The ballroom was been dark, hazy, this sudden bright is hurting my eyes.

"Yes?" a muffled voice asks softly, coming from the backmost stall. I stride down the tiled hall, my heels clicking all the way, glancing down to see if we are alone. We are, thank God. It strikes me as strange. I mean, it's prom. Usually there were twenty or more girls all fighting for mirror or vanity space. Lots of people spent more time in here than on the dance floor-especially with music like this. Huh. Maybe everyone looks so good tonight they'd forgone the ritual. Or maybe they had found another bathroom.

I stop in front of the last stall, kneeling, careful to tuck my dress around me so as to avoid the floor. It looks clean enough, but you never know. "Do you want to talk? I saw what happened out there. He must have been a real jerk or something, huh? "

"Yeah." Her sigh isn't entirely audible. "Yeah, he was. I'd rather not talk about it, okay?"

"That's fine." I assure her. "Do you need some tissue? The toilet paper is a real killer on the nose?"

"Sure."

I dug around in my purse, a little pink clutch Di had insisted I buy, and finally surfaced with the promised Kleenex. I hand in under, and a few seconds later I hear a snotty snort as she blew. It is a wonder I had fit it into the clutch with all the makeup Di had made me take for a "Just-in-case" and my wallet and my cell. Since I am prone to sneezing after getting out of a car, I had snuck out three of the unneeded lip glosses (there were two left!) and the nail polish (um, why?) so there was just enough room.

"I'm sorry." I say when the trumpeting sounds stop. "I wish there was something I could do…."

"Oh, this is more than enough," Val says, voice still sounding mushy. "The fact that you came in here at all…sometimes it seems nobody cares, it's just that I'm popular…none of my friends came in here, you know. But you did, and we're not even friends. Just…acquaintances. That was really nice of you. Thanks." I hear her stand. "I should find Helen," she says wistfully. "See if she'll drive me home."

"Oh no!" I cry. "You should stay. Show him that you don't need him to have a good time…sorry. It's just, I'm sure you would have a good time just proving you don't need anybody. Besides, you should let him ruin your last Prom. There are a lot of cute guys here. Like Paul," I say, naming the swim team captain. "Or Aaron. That would burn his bacon."

"You know," she says suddenly. "You're right. I will stay. And he can just go flip off, stupid son of a nutcracker."

Only she didn't say flip or nutcracker.

The lock slide back, and there she stood, a marvel in red silk. She holds out a hand to help me up and then crosses to the mirror, examining the reflection. "I look terrible!" she exclaims, grabbing the black pouch that worked as a purse. In a few minutes, with me hovering behind, complimenting occasionally, she made her shiny, red face back into the tanned, smooth masterpiece it was before her fight with Ron. Appling some lip gloss she glances up at me. "Who are you with?"

"Nobody," I say quickly. "Diana and I had a group, but they went to mingle so I stayed back."

"That was a little mean."

"I'm not one to dance," I say mildly. "And they did their best. Besides, if I had been dancing, who would give you tissues."

She laughed lightly. "Fair point. But are you sure you don't want to dance? I know Aaron came alone..."

"Oh," I say, stuttering. "No. Thank you. I'm fine."

Valerie shrugged ,pulling out a midnight-blue bottle, tiny and perfect, from the depths of her pouch. Without a label, I worry it might be some drug. Then she uncaps it and sprayed in the air around her, walking through the mist. "Perfume. Okay." I inhale, enchanted.

"Like it?" she asks. "I made it myself, though it was my friend's idea. Here, try some." And she sprays some on my wrists. I closed my eyes, sniffing the perfection. It has notes lavender and vanilla…mint…honeysuckle…and something deeper...hearty...

"It's great." I breathe. "You're friend is a genius, and you're I broke off, smelling it again.

"Here." Val offeres me her corsage, a pair of pink lilies with silver and white ribbons. That's odd, it doesn't match her dramatic dress…is that why she had been mad at Ron?

"I couldn't."

"Please," she asks, her eyes wide and pleading. "It would look much better on you, and I can't stand to look at it."

"Well…I guess." I eye the magnificent bloom. Where did he get such a thing, it was unreal?

"Thank 've been so kind." She smiles, beautiful and popular seeping through her every pore. "Well,I better get out there. Thanks again, Kari. Buh-bye!"

She waltzs to the door, giving me a wave before disappearing.

"Good-bye." I murmurs, and left myself.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Minutes later, Kari leaves the restroom with Val coming out shortly before. Val has blotted her eyes with a borrowed tissue. When she sees me, she gives a tiny grin and thumbs up before slinking off to find Ron again. Kari looks after her, still concerned. Then she shrugs it off, making her way back to the corner. Now it is my turn.

I grab a pair of cups of the ruby punch from a passing caterer, following her though the mob. When I am only a few yards from the wall, Kari's head shoot up, eyes meeting mine in a flash. The momeny her green-gold gaze is upon mine, I halt. I am frozen, shocked and exuberantly happy. I was right! She smiles a little, politely. Of course, she has no clue of who I am. It's just a smile. The kind of smile she would give anyone.

Because, to her, I am "anyone." "She doesn't remember."

It had been a faint hope,

I am in front of her before I know how. She is such an image. More lovely than all those years ago.

"Punch?" I offer, swallowing. Huge, golden eyes stare up at me, curious and apprehensive all at once.

"No, thank you," she says.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"What kind of pick up line was that?" I wonder. It was rare that unusually hot guys amble my way, and even rarer that they had multiple brain cells. Not that this one had proven his intelligence. Yet. But the punch is a sign of peace, a polite offering.

He is hot. Like I said, unusually so. Tall, dark, and handsome. A 1940s dark hero, Clark Gable and James Dean rolled into one. Something of a devil-may-care attitude and I-am-the-devil style emmulated from his brooding form. Black hair, a raven's wing of which was falling ever-so-perfectly into his deep eyes that were a blueish-gray, like the edge of a storm on the ocean's horizon. The eyes say deep thinker, world-wearily, soulful, and gravely sad. I am instantly enchanted for the second time that night, and this time it is actually a guy. Not a scent.

The sculpted face, pale skin, perfect body, did I mention he was H-O-T? Nothing short of a model. Talking to me. The socially awkward girl who stood in corners during her junior prom.

"Terrible music," he comments light, eyes boring into mine. This still doen't give his I.Q., and moron could see this stuff sucked. A deaf guy could, for God's sake!

"Yes." I agree. "Herman's idea of a joke. Torture, really. I hate rap. "

"I do as well. Does Herman often do such things?"

I blinked. His English, while unaccented and flawless, sounded a little old world in his wording. Besides that, everyone knew Herman was a joker. The whole school recalled multiple food fights, goats on the roof, explosions in the lab, escaped dissection frogs, and spray-painted messages on the building, written by him, claiming he was a freak. Even the new kids knew this.

"Are you new here?" I ask, brushing off his own question.

"Yes," he admitts. "I moved her a month ago. Though it seems like an eternity. Do you ever feel like that?"

I feel the meaning of his words are double, as he enunciates each letter carefully, staring at me as though trying to convey some secretive message that could only be recieved through intense gazes. But before I can reply with a quirky "Well, florescent lighting and cafeteria food do that to a person," I felt my stomach lurch and my head starts feel heavy.

"Yes," I say, somewhat dazed. "Yes, I do."

"Good," he says softly, though not to me. "Are you tired, Kari?" he asks intently.

"Yeah, a little-wait." Realization finally dawns. Give the girl a prize. "How do you know my name?"

Had he been asking around about me? I was too flattered to think it creepy.

When I asked that he smiled, and it was like a light had been turned on. That sad face…it was most beautiful when it smiled.

"I wouldn't worry about that, my dear Karianna." He said, still smiling. To me his tone was cocky, but kind, and meaningful. How did he know my full name? Nobody knew that, not even Di!

My whole body begins to feel...heavy. My arms feel weighted, and I am tired. Drowsy, foggy, I press my body into the wall in an attempt to remain vertical. My legs are killing me. "Why?" I had barely moved all night! No dancing, running, anything! The most I'd endured was two hours in the chair at the salon, prepping my hair, and another forty-five for makeup. "What is wrong with me?"

"Tired?" the boy asks softly. But he's not a boy, not really.

I want to lie so badly, to say "No, I'm fine, thank you." and then leave this frighteningly beautiful character behind. But my mouth won't let me. It just...won't. Something held the words back, tugging them from my throat so I now spoke the truth.

"Yes," I gasp. "Very."

"Let me help you, Kari." He swiftly wraps an arm around my waist, leading me gently away from the wall and into the sea of tables. My arm is slung across his broad shoulders. I stumble through every motion.

"Where are we going?" I ask, sluggishly spitting out the words. He doesn't answer This boy whose name I did not know, is dragging me slowly through the crowd, toward the doorway all the way across the dance floor. Where is Diana? I search frantically all the faces around, but she was not one of them. My head lolls as time passes, as I barely have energy to hold it up. Aaron, the elder brother of Erin (yes, they were purposely named the same) looks at me curiously. Formally the school's biggest player and my short-time sort-of boyfriend, he had asked me to dance while his date, Peyton, a new girl to our private school, was in the bathroom. I had refused him, and now he is wondering why sensible Kari is letting a stranger take her onto the dance floor. Unfortuanately, my captor has no intentions of showing me his moves. I want to cry for help, run, hide, anything! But my body won't let me.

"It's okay," the handsome man dragging me says soothingly in my ear, sensing my discomfort and silent panic. "You are okay, Kari."

Suddenly we are in the hallway. The wall sconces have dimmed for effect, elegant with a fancily weaved carpet and mirrors. No one was there to greet us. ARen't there supposed to be chaperones? Somebody? Staff?

More panic rises in my chest. He is turning us toward the exit.

"N-nuuuoooo." I slur. "I dun't….go. Stay….please."

"I'm sorry, my love," he murmurs, but doesn't pause in his journey.

Now we are outside on the parking lot. The back one for employees. That is when he stops leading me and just carries me, stroking me hair. "Kari." He breathes, sounding content, happiest he had ever been in his life. I shiver into his touch

My body won't let me move an inch. As if I needed that to persuade me...his aura is threatening enough. And my own curiosity, not to mention dazed mind, are chains enough. For the moment.

The spell is quickly broken, however, by the sound of emergency vehicles. Living in the city, it's a constant background noise. I'm jerked forward.

"No," I protest as he stroked my hair, gathering strength. "I want to go back! Let go!" Sure it is childish, but it i all I an manage. At least my words are coming out straight now.

He stops before a sleek black car, the expensive latest model of some foreign company I can sort of recognize from a recent episode of Top Gear, clicking the button on a remote from key chain I hadn't seen him get out. The passenger side door opens gracefully, reveling black leather interior, bucket seats, clean and obviously new as the car was.

"No," I whisper again as he moved forward. I know what happens in cars. What could happen. Either we drove away or…or things happened. Bad things.

That stops him briefly. Hesitantly, he places a gentle kiss on my forehead. I slouch away. Comfort of any kind is useless now.

"I'm sorry."

I am laid in the front seat carefully. He shut sthe door without locking it, but my free movement is non-existent at this point, so it in't like he has much to worry about in way of my escape. The car's interior is black from heavily tinted windows and black upholstery, making it difficult to make out any features. It could have just be my fuzzy head, though.

When he sits down and started the engine I continue to protest feebily.

"I'm sorry," he kept saying as he drove us to Godknowswherevill. "So sorry. "

"Are you going to kill me?" I finally asks, my voice weak and broken. It's a high whine, one that makes me wince.

He glances at me, surprised. Shocked, even.

"No," he say. His voice sounds strange. Broken as mine was. Strangled, muffled with emotion. It suited the emo getup. "No, I'm not a killer. Or a rapist. "

"Then what are you?" I plead. "Give me something, please."

We are at a red light and he stares at me pityingly. I got kind of mad than, because the last thing I want from him was pity. Mercy, maybe, but pity? Um, no hot helpful thank you. Jerk.

"Just sleep, Kari."

"No."

"Please," He was pleading now, honestly wanting me to rest.

"I don't want to."

"I don't trust you. You can't make me."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

She is refusing to sleep, and the drug is wearing off, not that she noticed. If she doesn't rest soon, the second drug would be completely useless. Her body would regain control, and the plan would take a sharp, brutal turn.

"I promise I won't do anything uncoth," I say quietly, attempting soothing her with my voice. She can't deny how it affects her, even in her anger. My fingers weave themselves in her hair, massaging the scalp. The stylish knot it had once been in is long gone, and she looked beautiful without it. She narrows her eyes, distrustful. Shifting, she moves out of my reach.

"Why should I believe you?" How can I believe you?

"Have I hurt you?"

"No," she admits. "But that doesn't me you won't."

I give a leaden sigh. This is more difficult than I anticipated.

"I swear on your life I shall not harm you."

"My life is nothing to you!" she snaps. Yes, the drug was wearing. Short-lived and powerful.

"It is worth more than anything. Now please," I pulled a handkerchief out from my pocket. "Sleep. I don't want to force you."

Her eyes widened when she ses the white piece of cloth. Smart girl, she knows it wasn't to smoother, but soaked in chemicals that would knock her out.

My bluff works.

"Alright," she grumbles. "But touch me, you die. Got it?"

I nearly roar with laughter. Me, dying. However, I restrain myself to a chuckle. She really is something, my Kore. The laughter sets her off, but she settles. Closing her eyes, Kari shifts so that her back faces me. I lean forward to brush back a lock of hair from her ear.

"Sleep now, my Kore."

"My name is Kari," she murmurs, then blacks out as the second set of chemical conponents begins to sink into her blood stream.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

I wake in a bed. Alone, thank God, but still in an unfamiliar bed. I know it isn't mine from the lack of scent; I sprayed some lilac-vanilla sleep spray from Bed Bath Beyond every night on my sheets for the last three years, and these sheets smell like…a spicy, eucalyptus-y sort of thing. Waking in an unknown bed was a little creepy. Kind of the thing to send you into a panic ASAP.

I was alone, like I said, in a dark room without windows. Reaching my hands out to the side of the bed, I found a bedside table, then a cold metal object. A lamp. Flicking it on, I saw the room was basically empty. Only a bed (full sized, very nice ebony carved in an ancient style, really pretty) , the bedside table, and a lamp. Leaning forward I saw a chest at the end of the bed, doubling as a bench, but nothing else. No décor. The walls were lavender, a misty purple, the sheets were slate black and everything was cold.

No clock to tell me what time it was. How long had I been here? No matter, it was time to get up. I stood, and nearly screamed to see that I wasn't in my dress! He had taken it off! Ohmygoodiegosh, he had seen me-me…he was going to pay for this! My little fashion diva with Nicey Nash's voice was saying that sleeping on my dress would have ruined it, he had done me a favour. "At least now it doesn't have wrinkles!" I knew my favourite TV show host would never been that stupid. My little voice that was Diana's growled in anger, threatening, yelling curses and telling me all the things we would do to this kidnapper.

However, my voice, the true me that was whispering softly said "He was just looking out for you, I'm sure, Kari. It's not like he put you in any Victoria's Secret." This was true. I was just in some black cotton capris, and a tank top. With my original bra still on. My hair had been swept back into a ponytail like it normally was when I went to bed, because my hairdresser, Michael, had told me that it would reduce the rat's nest tangling I had as a child, and prevent acne. This was how I normally went to bed. How did he know that? Was he a stalker?

It was stupid, but I tried the door. Surprisingly, it was unlocked. So I left. Sure, it could have been a trap, but attempting to escape was better than staying here.

When I stepped out into the hallway it was like a completely different world. Medieval-looking stone walls with tapestries and marble floors. At least my room had drywall! This was olden days, with torches!

I looked around nobody in sight, though they could be around a corner at either end. Now I had a choice-left or right?

Since the left hall was darker, with stale air and shadows, it was most likely to be a dead end. The right was brighter, with breezes flowing by. Perhaps it lead to the outdoors? A way out? I ambled off down the right hallway, praying for some form of exit and a taxi waiting to take me home.

Five minutes later my perception turned out to be correct. I was on the outside of a courtyard with marble pillars surrounding it and a fountain in the center. It was something you'd find at a merchant's house in ancient Greece, only it wasn't a broken down moss covered artifact, it was real, and alive! And beautiful. Trees, flowers, grass. Something familiar. Finally.

I sat on the cool grass under a weeping willow in one corner of the yard. Its long tendrils of leaves hid me easily. Maybe I could stay here until nightfall and nobody would find me. I could then search for an escape.

By that time I had figured out this was a huge house, a palace even! Like one of the big mansions in the older part of town, where people had a household of servants and pools in the back yard. Only this one had a crazy owner who was all about the ancient Greek décor and decided to make his house all olden-day. It was too big to be run alone, like our house was, with just me and Mom cleaning it on Saturdays. No, this place had to have a staff. So I would wait.

I lay back, taking a deep breath. I needed to relax. Panicking would not help me. Staying calm and rationally coming up with a plan of evasion would. A slight breeze ruffled the branches and I could now see the sky. I let in a sharp intake of air.

The sky was blood red. Not the beautiful sunset kind, but a dark, deep red, high in the sky. Too high to be sunset or sunrise. I shut my eyes, praying that my mind was just playing tricks. Or had global warming really come true? Was it the apocalypse?

A "crack" from above caught my attention and my eyes snapped opened. A figure cloaked in black crouched on a branch directly above me head. It was looking down. If it wasn't for the sudden sound the twig had made I would have never seen them, for they blended in with the tree's dark shadow. It was the twitch of their form that clued me in. I jumped, spinning to face it. It was only a few feet above me, and I could make out parts of a face. It was smiling. It too jumped, landing only a meter in front of me, and reached out. I drew back, glaring.

The figure stepped forward, into a beam of light from a gap in the leaves, and I once again saw the handsome, pale face of my kidnapper.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

She is obviously frightened and upset about my intrusion. She won't allow me to touch her now that she had full control of her body. I can only smile, though I regret the distance. She was so naïve.

"Who are you?" she snaps, backing away. "Where am I? Why did you bring me here?"

I chuckle. Such a sweetling. She has barely changed.

"Don't laugh at me!" Kore growls, her tiny hands making fists at her sides. I move closer. She is so mad, she doen't draw back, but leans forward.

"You are in my home," I say calmly. "as an honored guest."

"I don't want to be here!"

"For that I am sorry, for I truly wish you did. But you have no choice in the matter, Karianna."

"Take me home," she demands simple, glaring up at me with such ferocity and hate, I nearly…I nearly lose my temper. After all this-this struggling, all for her, how could she demand that? How could she look at me with such hatred? Surely something of her older self was still left?

"Never," I say harshly. "You're here to stay. You'll be happy here."

"I won't!" she huffs, a bit childish.

"You will. I swear."

She will. She had to. It is not up for debate; Kore would be happy here. Ecstatically, blissfully, happy.

"Where am I?"

I almost lie; the truth would be so much, she would "freak out," as Val would say.

"In my home." I hesitate. "Elysium."

Her golden eyes widen. "But that's an imaginary place. A myth."

I shrugged, uncaring. Kari knows her myths, being the history fanatic she is, and so, is drawn to Greek "mythology." With me and the red skies, what else was she to think?

"It is your new home."

"No," she whispers. "No. That's not true. That place isn't real. You're mad." Her head shoots up. "Who are you?" she asks, in that same demanding voice. "What makes you think you can take someone like that?"

"Hale," I say softly. "But my given name you already know, my Kore."

"For the last time!" she moans, throwing herself away. "My name is Kari. Car-e. Kari! Not Kore. Kore is not a real name, it's the thing you find inside an apple."

"Don't deny yourself."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

When I was a kid, a nerdy middle schooler with few friends, I was big into myths. Norse, Egyptian, Asian, Native American, Greek and Roman. You name it. I was a little expert. My mom thought it was weird, Di thought it was weirder still, and Will tolerated as I spouted out random facts about gods. So, I know the stories. I know what the Elysian Fields are. I knew who ruled them.

This is not right. My kidnapper, oh, I'm sorry, Hale, telling me that I wasn't Kari, over-protected child, least popular girl in school due to her Mom's overbearing-ness. Oh no. I am instead Kore, over-protected child, least popular girl in school, goddess of flowers, reincarnation. Yeah. A goddess. Every girl's dream.

Um, NOT!

Or, not when you are the goddess famed for being kidnapped by the God of Death, Hades. Who is unfairly hot.

And if it is been true, it isn't the death thing that bothers me. Not at all, I'm at peace with it. People die. Circle of life, and all that jazz. It's the living underground. It's being kidnapped. And it's the being stuck underground forever. That's what bothers me. I enjoy the outdoors, the sun, the heat. Life. What life is there in the world of the dead?

"No." I say. "I am Kari. Not any goddess. Sorry. Wrong number."

"Kore," he says seriously. "It is you destiny. I would not have taken you if I wasn't sure. You are Queen of Elysium. It's your true life." He is looking intently at me now. Why is it all the really lovely ones were either crazy or really, really stupid? And what is this destiny crap? Can you say cliche?

"No." I step closer. Gods, he smells wonderful, too. Ten times better than that perfume Val had last night. "Way. Am. I. A. Freaking. Goddess."

Only I din't say freaking.

I have suspected, of course, for years. How could I not? I had an unusual ability to grow things, mostly flowers. We spent a ton of money each year for my gardens. My perennials, the ones that were suppose to die the year you bought them, then never grow back grew back. Sometimes they didn't even die. It was like I could speak to the plants. We could talk to each other.

I had an over-protective mother. And now I had been kidnapped by this hottie, who thought he was King of the Underworld.

Here's your sign. Reincarnation, anyone?

But I mean, I was a middle school. It was a fantasy. The gardens, a product of my facination with the stories. And I just happened to have a green thumb. And lots of people have crazy moms.

There are only a few options as what to do next, if this is real. None of them were really appealing to me. Accept it, reject it, play along, or run.

"Listen," I say through gritted teeth. "Hale. I can't stay here. A) I'm not Kore, B) Even if I was you know the ending, and it's not a happy one for either of us. My mom will kill everyone! You cannot let that happen. It's worthless. Give up. Let me go before any real damage is done!"

Hale regards me calmly, his blue-gray eyes flitting over my face, giving an evaluation to his own choices. Is he going to say yes? Let me leave? Had my ploy succeeded?

"You do not think you are the reincarnation of the goddess?"

I sigh. Really, he hadn't struck me as stupid. Just stubborn. "No. No I do not, Hale."

"Prove it."

I blink. "What?"

"Prove to me that you are not." He strides a few feet away, eyeing one small purple flower in the grass. He turns back to me. "I'll let you leave if you can show me that you are average, everyday Kari," He says it like it is a bad thing.

"Alright."

He lift is boot over the flower and crushed it without the slightest change of expression.

"No!" I cry, lurching forward and bending down to tend to the poor little bloom. When I am only a few inches from the crush thing, a green spark flew from my out stretched fingertips and the plant stood again. I stare at my hand in amazement, doing a double take from the flower to my limb.

"What-"

"You do that all the time. Only here does the power show itself."

I paled, silent. I have lost his gamble. My fingers shake. I can do nothing but stare at them. What can I do now?

He has been leaning against the tree, cocky again. Now he pushs himself off and stand before me circling slowly. From behind me he caught my waist, pulling me against him and turning me around to face him, all in one smooth move. "Believe me now?" He breathes in my ear.

I do. Kind of. But I do not want to. It is had to argue with the proof staring you so blatantly in the face. Besides, I have more important things to focus on. Like this guy who obviously had the hots for me. It feels good, being held by him. Safe. A little possessive, but safe, all the same. Nice, really. I nod slowly in answer to his question.

"Good." He purrs, nuzzling my cheek.

"But I have to go back," I whisper, hesitant. He stops. "She'll kill everyone." I explain, still whispering. "If this is true, if everything is right...she'll do it again."

Hale burst out laughing. A joyous, full, roaring laugh. One that makes me smile, regardless of the situation. He pulls away to look at me better, laughter still dancing in his eyes, that bright smile lighting his face. He is so much more happier here. It made him all the more beautiful.

"Little one," he breathes. "it has been a long time since your mother has held any power. A very, very long time."

"But…why?" I am confused. Weren't we gods?

"Humans have had control over everything, my goddess, save a few he says gently. "The sun, the moon, the sea, love, chaos, death…"

"But then-"

"Why do you have power? You have it, but you cannot use it against humans. You cannot start chaos. Only the named can do that. Not she, not you, not your father, nor Diana."

I nod dumbly.

"That's why we were reincarnated," he murmurs. "To a time when those who would stop us had no power."

We are silent, and he continues holding me, sinking to the base of the tree where we just sat for the longest time, contemplating our roles.

"Did she love you?" I finally ask.

"Who?"

"Persephone."

He is quiet, looking at me, thinking.

"Yes," He finally say. "But not for a while, until I had shown my loyalty, and that I wasn't going to hurt her. It took months. Just a little while before her mother found us. Then…years later, we were destroyed. When our kingdoms died, so did we."

"I don't understand. You died? But you're immortals. Gods."

"We died in the sense that we had no power or abilities to enter the mortal world. After a time, we were given a choice: be reborn as mortals with our powers, or simply be reborn. Get a new body."

"What did you chose?"

"I didn't get a choice. I was reborn, with a mortal family, as a god, with my powers. It just…happened."

"What about me?" I ask. "I don't remember any of it."

"You…you weren't given a choice either. Your mother arranged it without our knowledge, hoping you would forget this," He motions between us. "And take Apollo, or someone else. "

"How did you remember?"

"How could I forget?" He asks sadly.

"How could I?" I whisper.

Silence assumed us again, until I look up at Hale. Hades, I correct myself. Everything he says makes some sort of sense. The history, me, our connection, this place. I missed my family, my friends, my home. But through this I felt an opening. A certain trust in nothing in particular. Immense, deep, unfamiliar, unknown, but it is trust. Wary, tentative trust. I could try.

"Will you stay?" he asks, hope and fear both coloured in his eyes.

"Yes." I answer.

-XXX-

This is my second Greek Mythology Fan fiction, and my 9th in total. Originally this was a short retelling story project for Language Arts, then planned to be split into chapters and lengthened, I needed something to work on between projects. It is written as a mixture of my own style and Meg Cabot's, 'cause she in my favourite writer.

This is my favourite Greek story. I've seen a lot of others on this site, and wanted a quick fiction more humorous than some of my others. And I want to compare it to Meg Cabot's Abandoned when it comes out (Sometime in 09 or 10, can't wait!)

To all my Arty Fans, this is an "I'm sorry for not updating" for the next two weeks. Review. Enjoy.

Oh, one last thing. Persephone. Kari isn't going to be called "Persephone" until she A) Accepts and officially becomes Queen of the Underworld B) Loses her innocents.

Any questions? Comments? Guesses as too whose is what deity? You know what button to push. That's right nods to you as you click "Submit Review"

Dania

2012 edit: I finally went through to change the tense and generally improve the story. It's far from what I would wish it to be, but at least now it's a bit cleaner.