I'm so sorry about the long wait! Something was wrong with my account- it wouldn't let me click on the 'My Stories' section under the 'Publish' tab in the Login thing... XP It's been driving me NUTS!!
Thanks to: DD2, piratejester, House Calls, Bakerlover, GSRFanatic123, langfieldl, Wizard-in-Disguise, and kathiann.
Not sure what to say right now… I'm currently doing a lot of English homework. Yucketh.
BTW, I'm finishing the last chapter! I changed it- it's going to be only 18 chapters. Yeah, I'm sorry. But I'm loosing steam here, and I wanted to finish it before I got bored with it and gave up.
On the good side, I'm starting another fic. I haven't posted it yet, but it looks to be good. I'm pleased with how it's going so far- I'll probably post the first chapter sometime next week. I like to have at least three chapters done before I start posting.
So yeah… here you go!
"Hello," Azulia said, smiling with faint confusion. "Um… can I help you?" They looked at her, puzzled.
"What? No," Lisbon said, then she shook her head and dismissed it. "Azulia, we've been worried sick about you," she said, her smile slipping a bit.
"Uh… I don't know what you're talking about. Did I know you?" she said, raising an eyebrow. Behind Lisbon, Cho's face went white, and he gasped. Jane's smile slid off his face, replaced by a dejected, disappointed look. In the transition, Lisbon caught a glance of a horrified expression, sickened by what he'd caused.
"Oh no," Cho breathed in shock, his face falling.
"I'm sorry, I guess the doctors didn't tell you. Something messed up when I got hurt, and I don't remember much," she said apologetically. Lisbon blanched as she, Van Pelt, and Rigby suddenly understood.
"Oh my God," Van Pelt whispered, appalled. Rigby looked amazed. Only Jane kept his calm demeanor.
"Azulia? My name is Patrick Jane. Does that sound familiar at all?" he said slowly. She tiled her head slightly, looking thoughtful.
"You're that psychic guy, right? The medium? My sister showed me a video of you once. Is that what you mean?" she asked. She bit her lip when he didn't answer. "Oh, man. There's more, isn't there," she said, more of a statement than a question. He nodded.
"I'm Teresa Lisbon. I work for the CBI. You've been helping us with a case for about a week," Lisbon said, her mind whirling. How can this be? She doesn't remember anything…
"I don't remember that. What was the case about?"
"Your sister," Lisbon told her softly. Azulia's expression froze.
"What about my sister?" she said sharply. "What happened?"
Lisbon stayed silent, searching for a way to tell her. Oh no, she doesn't remember her sister dying! This is going to be so terrible for her! "Well… your sister, Rhea…" she trailed off, unsure of what to say.
She was saved from saying anything when Azulia's puzzled expression vanished, replaced by a naughty grin.
"Gotcha!" she cackled. "I don't believe you just believed me, right like that! Ohmygosh, your expressions were excellent!" She struggled to suppress her laughter, but it poured out. A moment later, it shifted to coughing. Cho was at her side in an instant.
"Are you okay?" he said urgently, hand hovering over the call-nurse button. She nodded, managing to stop coughing, and rolled her shoulders uncomfortably.
"Yeah, fine. Don't you dare push that button," she threatened, panting through her teeth with short, quick breaths as she regained control over her pain and her breathing. Her inhalation steadied and returned to normal, just in time for the agents to find their voices.
"I don't- you just-… I… That was a cruel, evil joke!" Rigby stammered, eyes wide. Lisbon started to laugh lightly, relieved that it was only a joke, and realizing that it was, in fact, very funny. Jane smirked.
"You were in on it," she accused the consultant.
"Of course. I saw she was faking the moment we came in," he said smartly. She stared at him disbelievingly, not sure if she should be angry or amazed at his sheer arrogance.
"Is that my stuff?" Azulia said, looking hopefully at the duffel bag hanging from Van Pelt's shoulder.
"No, it's mine. You gave the bag to me. Don't you remember?" Van Pelt said coldly. Azulia sighed.
"Look, I know it was mean, and I apologize. But I'm not sorry, though- it was sooo worth it," she said, giving the agent a guilty smile. Van Pelt rolled her eyes and handed her the duffel bag.
"Thanks. That was smart of you guys."
"So… what really happened?" Cho asked what everyone was thinking. Azulia bit her lip and stared at her hands, folded lightly on her pillow.
"Well… where do you want me to start?" she said slowly. Lisbon's eyes flicked to Jane- his lips were pursed in a combination of worry, dismay, and apprehension.
"Wherever you think would be best," Van Pelt suggested softly. Azulia sighed again, and began struggling to push herself up into a sitting position.
"Hey, should you be doing that?" Cho asked as the teen gritted her teeth, obviously in pain.
Jane wanted to help her up, but he knew she wouldn't appreciate the help. He could imagine what she was thinking. Something along the lines of, I'm a cross country runner, for goodness sakes! I run over three miles a day, and I can't even sit up on my own?!? He didn't dare even show sympathy on his face- she wouldn't like that at all.
I played soccer with a busted hip! I ran three miles with pneumonia! I can't be struggling to just sit up! Azulia was thinking. Wuss. Wimp. Weak little baby needs someone to hold her. Do you need to be spoon-fed mush next? she silently taunted herself. She kept her face carefully relaxed, but couldn't help but grind her teeth, keep the cry of pain caged behind them. Her back burned, and she concentrated on Cho's voice, ignoring the colors exploding behind her eyes as her shredded back sent pings of agony to her brain.
"Probably not," she said tightly, finally getting upright. She folded her legs Indian style and took a moment to recover. Wimp, she told herself again.
"So… back to what happened?" Lisbon prodded gently, aware of how small and fragile she looked, sitting there wrapped up in blankets and bandages, one eye ringed with purple and blue bruises, her hair mussed. It struck her again that she was only fifteen years old, still a girl, and she'd already had a near-death experience while saving someone else's life for the second time in less than an hour.
She was reminded that her sister just died, her parents were never home, and she was taking care of herself. Grown up too fast by forces out of her control. It made Lisbon sad to see innocence and childhood ended so early.
"Right. So I was sitting behind Eliza, diagonally to her. I noticed her pull a little silver thing out of her jacket, and poke the people around her with it. That must've had the curare that you were talking about on it. Then she dug out a gun, and aimed it at you. She pulled the trigger, I think, but I was already over the seats and trying to get it from her."
She continued to describe the fight in great detail, even pantomiming a bit, but she stopped that after she accidentally twisted her back, and hissed in pain.
"What were you thinking after you took the shrapnel?" Jane asked curiously.
"Why?" she said warily, wondering if it was another one of his tricks.
"You were saying something. 'St-,' what was it? 'Stringrah' or something?"
"Oh." Her brow furrowed as she tried to recall what she was thinking about. "Oh!" she laughed, shaking her head. "When I was twelve, my parents took Rhea and I on one of their trips. We got to go snorkeling near the Cayman Islands, and there was a pod of wild stingrays. I got stung by one in the back."
"What happened then?" Cho asked, intrigued.
"I was lucky, I guess. It was a small stingray, and it didn't give me a real sting. It was fighting with another one, and I got too close. It was only about an inch into my back, and it barely missed impaling my stomach. That was the only other time in my life I'd gotten emergency care, not counting now."
"What was the other time?" Rigby questioned. Jane got up and wandered aimlessly around the room, taking in every minute detail almost instinctively. His eyes lingered on a small black box lined with white silk, a small silver card under it.
She shook her head, grinning ruefully. "Something stupid. I was seven, I think. Rhea and I had gone on a fishing trip with a couple of friends. We were racing each other back to the cars, and I tripped. It was a rock path, and I fell on a sharp rock, about yay big," she said, holding her fingers about a half-inch apart. "Went right into my head, here." She pointed to a small scar just above her left eyebrow.
Jane's attention locked onto an instant of light on Azulia's wrist. It was an elegant silver bracelet, made of two silver strands twisted around each other. Miniscule thorns protruded from the vines. The clasp was made of the tips of the vines twisting around of each other, and on the opposite side was two small, delicate rose blossoms. The entire structure had vintage black ink on it, giving in an antique, worn appearance. The rose heads were pure black except for the edges of the petals.
"Where did you get the bracelet?" he asked, breaking into her storytelling. She looked up, surprised.
"What, this?" She held her wrist up, displaying the resplendent, graceful bangle. Van Pelt let out a small gasp, awed by its beauty.
"Oh, wow. That's really… wow," she breathed, getting up to examine it closer.
"Where did you get it?" Jane said again, careful to keep his voice light and harmlessly curious.
"Logan," she admitted, a bashful grin lighting up her face. "His parents are jewelers, and he helped make this. He sent it to me last night. I just got to open it this morning. I was talking to him on the phone before you guys came in- we got school cancelled."
"Whoa," Rigby joked, holding an arm up as if to shield his eyes. "Your happy glow. It's blinding." She smacked him with her pillow, both of them laughing like children. Van Pelt bumped shoulders with him.
"Quit picking on the defenseless," she teased. He bumped her shoulder back a bit too hard. She stumbled and almost careened into the wall before he caught her arm, apologizing until he realized she was laughing.
Azulia watched them with pleased, intelligent eyes, imagining the once thin, feeble, uncertain line thickening, becoming flexible and resilient. She glanced at Lisbon and Jane, knowing that their bond was at the midpoint, where the bridge was built, but it had to be tested first.
It would either explode in their faces or finally adhere into something impervious to everything thrown at it. She told herself that it would connect, it would work out, but there was no way to tell until the moment came.
"May I?" Jane asked, gesturing to the box and the card. She pursed her lips but nodded. He looked at the bottom of the box, recognizing the name of the jeweler engraved in the corner. His attention turned to the card.
I'm so sorry for everything, it read. Your sister, your parents, and now this. You've got an enormous burden on your shoulders, and, if you will allow it, I'd like to help you carry it. I want to be there for you, be the one who tells you everything is going to be alright, the one who wipes away the tears, who you can confide everything to.
I know they say teenage love doesn't last, but this will. I know it. You once told me our futures were tightly twisted together, we were inseparable. I want that. Please remember those words whenever you see this.
Love (if you want),
Jane read the card again. And then once more. And a last time. He couldn't keep an I-knew-it look off his face. When he'd seen Azulia's reaction to Logan's very presence, he knew. She'd instantly smiled, really smiled without any other bad emotions blunting it. Even Tyler had caught on to their unbreakable connection.
A corner of his mouth lifted slightly at the irony of it. She could see connections and relationships like no other, but she couldn't see her own.