Forever and Always

Once a Ninja, Always a Ninja

"Do not tell a friend anything

You would conceal from an enemy."

Previously ..

Colt: "But magic is a thing of imagination, is it not? It can't possibly exist."

Renee: She shrugged, "In my world it does," and then shuddered, not believing what she had just done. She had just revealed her past in the midst of a stranger's bedroom; with three boys she barely even knew trying to grasp her mouthful of words. Hoping that she had trusted the right individuals, she decided that it was time to finish off. "And while we're at it, you guys might as well make the most of this mess. So, any questions?"

Rocky: "Umm, yeah." He gulped, shifting his gaze from Renee to his brothers, when he heard a car pulling up on their driveway. "What are we gonna tell mum and dad when they come home?"

******

12. Concealed

The Honda stifled to a lifeless halt as it slowed onto the Douglas residence's driveway, its engine idling. After having danced into the small hours under an oppressive, party atmosphere, the couple felt well at home. A gush of sudden homeliness fell over the two as Mrs. Douglas twisted the key into the lock, and when the door swung open, she oscillated between countless thoughts. A threshold of somnolence touched her voice as she spoke. "I wonder if the boys are–" Sentence unfinished, with a sweeping glance traverse the corridor, Mrs. Douglas screamed. The house was a mess.

Not so much jolting the usually-vigilant man who stood by her side, Mr. Douglas brought a comforting arm over his wife's shoulders. His embrace delivered her solace. "Honey, calm down."

"But the boys, they…" She stumbled for words. "What if they–"

"It's going to be alright." Mrs. Douglas stared emotionless at her husband, with a complexion so ashen it matched almost the kitchen tiles. Mr. Douglas was always a consolation to her. "Now listen to me. You go call Agent Kurl, and I'll check the kids."

With shaky hands to her pale cheeks, Mrs. Douglas nodded. She bustled about fetching the phone immediately and wound her way pass a cluster too many of trivial, fragmentary obstacles, leaving not the slightest time for reflection. As soon as she rounded the corner, disappearing into the living room, the world seemed to revolve around the restful serenity of… nothing, literally.

In a pace so steadfast Mr. Douglas advanced the stairs, though only to find his right hand seconds later involuntarily reaching for his bare, leather belt, where his gun should have had been. As a FBI agent, such manners were inevitable – inevitable to the extent that Mr. Douglas had totally forgotten the fact that he wasn't carrying the gun at all that night.

And if he would tarry listening amid the landing for a long enough while, he would of had been able to grasp the muffled voices and the lambent lamplight snaking from his sons' room. A sense of relief soothed his soul, for it posed a sign telling him that his sons were safe and sound. Yet at the same time, anger too thundered through him, drilling the stain-like picture of a mother apprehensive for her children's unneeded safety into his very heart. Before he was able to take another demanding step forward, he also happened to hear the utterance of someone rather unfamiliar. With his sons. At the fourth person's voice, Mr. Douglas's mind blanched blank.

******

"Mum and dad? They won't be home so early. And they're nice parents. I mean, mum will understand." Colt suppressed a yawn, continuing his response. "Besides, we can deal with them once they really get home."

"They are home, Colt," Rocky said, to which a deafening silence followed.

He gave an unfunny scoff. "And you expect me to believe you."

Then suddenly, a scream erupted from down below. "AHHHHH!" The blare was so shrieky that it made further conversation uncomfortable, if not impossible. Renee pinned her hands over her ears, as though she had never once heard a human scream so loudly before. "Gee, what was that?" And when Tum Tum opened his mouth to speak, she thought she caught his brothers sighing. "That was our mum."

"Well, suppose I'll fly this place then."

"Wait, you're leaving?"

Renee rolled her eyes, presuming from their expressions that they had missed a cue. "And why not? I don't belong here, and neither should I have stayed in the first place." The brothers uttered not a word, for perhaps they didn't find anything wrong with her decision.

"SAMUEL, JEFFREY, MICHAEL!" Oh no. The boys knew this voice too well. "I know you guys are in there, so get out here right this instant!" Their father sounded more infuriated than he was worried. With their real names evidently being used and not their ninja aliases, the brothers could already envisage their angry father, teeth gnashing and all, awaiting them.

Suspense mounted.

Rocky, Colt and Tum Tum whipped their heads back only to find Renee already perched on the glass-toothed sill, ready for departure. She bid them goodbye – something she had wanted to do ever since the encounter earlier that night, though now that it played reality, reluctance unfolded. But what other alternative did she have? Time was running out, and fast, so she disappeared out the window with her last leave-taking words lost amongst the billow of wind.

"We're dead we're dead we're dead!" Tum Tum pulled a long face, complaining to himself. "And no, dad might ban me from lollies forever!" At that, Rocky and Colt grew much annoyed – they were in enough exigency, and their little brother wasn't helping. "Oh please shut up Tum," they thought, and fell into step with each other behind the bedroom door, ready and in hope of assuaging matters with their parents.

"Now, was all that real enough for you?" Rocky started, provoking anything but a laugh.

Colt replied, "No kidding," and gulped, all the while spent distressed over what Renee had told them rather than their forthcoming lecture.

******

"What'd I tell you, Jess? Ninjutsu and karate won't do them any good." Mr. Douglas gave vent to his anger and scolded the kids in a way with no light shed – not even amongst the darkest of thoughts. He seemed to be trying his hardest to leave unnecessary matters out of it, but to no avail. "If it wasn't for father and his absurd ninja lessons, maybe you kids wouldn't be so prone to trouble." He drew back for a while, but then after considering what a mess they put the house into, he started up again. "Maybe you'll all learn to grow up!"

"Dad," Colt snapped, "don't drag Grandpa into this." Albeit on the periphery of losing his temper, he kept his voice down and controlled. He didn't want to further break his mother's heart – that heart he once so unintentionally wounded. Colt may have grown boastful, cocky, you name it, and he may have been the definition of danger for years, but he was never the one to put his loved ones into peril. Never.

"Jeffrey, you know how much trouble you put yourself into this time?" Colt thought about it for a bit, zipped his mouth shut, and allowed his father to finish. "Robbers broke into the house and you," he shot a fleeting glance at Rocky before continuing, "didn't dial triple-oh?"

"By the way, it's Colt." Not Jeffrey. This was only the gazillionth time he had reminded his father. "And we did try calling the police."

"And why do I find that so hard to believe? Was it not you who so stubborn stopped Rocky from doing so?"

"Should I have?"

"Don't answer my questions with a question, son."

"Look, those robbers–"

Rocky, who had been sitting still for the last few minutes, had nudged him hard. Colt had in mind to inform their parents of the fact that because they know Ninjutsu, they were able to defend themselves, and Rocky had prevented him from saying so.

"Mum, dad, we're sorry." Having apologised when they probably had no need to, Rocky wondered if he had done the right thing. Perhaps additional delving into this supposed felony could be avoided this way. Rocky didn't want to disclose Renee's secret about the Evernight. Not yet.

There probably wasn't an easier way out than this. Colt folded his arms and cussed quietly to himself, while his siblings laid pleading eyes onto their mother. She remained unyielding at first, but it wasn't long before she was defeated. She couldn't bear the silence any longer. "How about letting it pass, Sam? The kids weren't at fault."

"I don't know…" Their father seemed to have fallen deep into consideration. "But what I do know is that until school begins, young men, you're all grounded. It shall give you plenty of time to reflect on your reckless behaviour."

"But Sam–"

Not wanting to listen to what his wife had left to say, he immediately said, "No," and left the room with an inconcealable, plaintive countenance.

******

Rocky, Colt and Tum Tum returned to their rooms soon after.

Renee: "So, what happened?"

Colt: "Ah geez! Don't pop up out of nowhere and scare us like that!"

Just that moment, the device next to their bedroom door flashed red. It beeped like a siren, but sounded so quietly that no one else but the kids in the room itself could hear it. It was an invention Grandpa suggested, and thanks to it, the boys had not once gotten into trouble for playing video games until very late at night.

Rocky: "SHHH!"

The secret device told them that someone was approaching, and was amazingly accurate (like always). And as a matter of fact, their mother outside was so close now that she already had her fist up against the door, ready to knock.

Rocky: "Hurry, before mum comes in," he whispered, signalling a bit too calmly in a situation likewise to his brothers.

Renee: "Whatsamatter?"

But before Renee had the chance to further ask what the hell was happening, she was pushed into dark space. The boys' plan was to hide her in their closet; the one with the ground-to-ceiling sliding doors and full of coats.

Mum: "Boys? Is everything okay?"

Rocky: "Yeah, we're good."

Mum: "And yet I thought I heard..."

Colt: "Mum, you're probably just tired," he chuckled, nervously shifting a step closer to the closet door behind him.

Mum: "Hmm, you're probably right. Well, goodnight then. Sleep tight."

Boys: "Sweet dreams."

Mum: "Oh, and don't worry too much about what your father said earlier. I'll deal with it."

Rocky: "Thanks mum."

And they kept waving until their mother had drawn her head back and closed the door, and maybe even until she had started down the stairs. Finally, they were able to release a sigh of relief. Not forgetting about the girl they locked up in their closet, the boys freed her.

Renee: "That wasn't necessary," she said, already worrying about her image. She was brushing off the dust collected and mumbling complaints; as though really throwing a princess's fit. "But thanks anyway."

Colt: "For shutting you in the closet?"

Renee: "No!" She cast Colt a menacing glare, one that told him: if you think it's fun to mock me, then I'm afraid you won't have much longer to live. "For keeping everything that has happened a secret."

******

The boys crawled into bed, and had talked Renee into staying for the night. They gave her a blanket and several cushions so she wouldn't feel too uncomfortable sleeping on the ground in the closet.

Their interest in the Evernight, and not to mention the girl herself, had evidently crested. Everything sounded so surreal – it unearthed even a state of mystification, with the new terms and concepts passing through one ear and out the other. This only made them ever so ravenous for more.

Tum Tum: "Renee, are you French?"

Renee: "Why?"

Tum Tum: "No reason."

Renee: "I'm half Japanese."

Tum Tum: "Hmm, like us."

They were all very tired and wanted to sleep, but the questions just kept coming.

Colt: "Say, if you're here and you're your clan's mistress, then who sent those men after you?"

There was a very long pause.

Rocky: "Well, I guess you don't have to tell us tonight if–"

Renee: "Lucian. His name is Lucian."

Rocky: "Oh."

Colt: "Is he the King or something?"

Renee: "Or something." Colt didn't seem to quite get the joke, so she moved on. "He's the male successor, and the Lord of Dark Magic."

Dark magic? The boys thought, staring curiously at the ceiling, awaiting whatever else it was that Renee was going to tell them. The topic seemed interesting enough.

Renee: "Mirages. Lucian has the power to manipulate them."

Definitely to be continued ..

AN : I bet all of youse thought I quit, huh? I am so so sorry (I feel almost like I've sinned) for not having updated any sooner. I was being lazy and working on another Fanfic D: And plus it was that time of the year, where all the school work and the most important tests kicked in. The chapters after this one though will be a little less descriptive than the opening because I'm really trying to finish it off. Please understand and do forgive me. I'd really appreciate it if you didn't stop reading!