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Disclaimer: Richelle Mead


Chapter 13

Images started to swirl around my mind. I saw mountains, valleys, and lakes. I saw cities and people as well. People of all backgrounds it seemed. The images finally settled and I found myself in a meadow. But not just any meadow, Lissa's and my meadow. When we had lived in Portland, we had always come here. We just came here and talked. It was a place where we could be ourselves, where we didn't have to pretend.

"Rose?"

I whipped around and was violently tackled to the ground. I looked up and saw Lissa smiling down at me, tears in her eyes. I squealed in delight and hugged her back, practically squeezing the life out of her.

It felt like we just sat there for hours, talking and laughing. She brought me up to date with everything that was happening back home. How Adrian could finally bring a whole rosebush back to life without passing out, and how Christian had "accidentally" lit Jesse Zeklos's hair on fire in Culinary Science class. I chuckled at that one. I really did miss them, not that I would ever say it out loud.

"So, how are you?" Lissa asked.

"Good. Every thing's good." I said quickly, hoping she wouldn't make me elaborate. No such luck.

"Uh huh..." Lissa raised her eyebrows at me. "So... why'd you run away?"

My head snapped up when she said that. I gulped. "Who told you?"

"Eddie called. They're really worried, you know." Lissa tilted her head and peered at me closer.

I sighed through my nose and looked off to the forest behind her. I saw birds in the tree and squirrels running around, looking for food.

"Things have been really strange lately..." I trailed off.

"Rose?" Lissa put her hand on my forearm, which was propped up on my knees. "What happened to you yesterday?"

I looked down at my hands, a small frown on my face. I couldn't lie. Not to her....

"I heard a voice yesterday." I whispered. "I heard someone in my head."

I heard Lissa gasp. I looked up and was shocked to see that she was shaking, her eyes dark and angry.

"That's not funny Rose!" Lissa yelled. She got up and stormed away, into the forest.

I jumped up and started following her. What had I said? I was only telling her the truth.

I jogged past her and then turned around so that I was jogging backwards, facing her. Lissa continued to ignore me, her face down.

"What did I say?" I demanded, panting. I was getting angry. I had just told my best friend that I might be going crazy, and what does she do? She walks away, like it's all my fault that my head might not be screwed on properly.

Lissa continued to ignore me, so I stopped jogging. She ran into me and before she could pull away I grabbed her shoulders so that she couldn't walk away again. She didn't say anything, she just stood there with her head down. I took the time to study her. Her hair had grown longer. It was past her shoulder blades now and was slightly curly. She had told me months ago that she had always wanted long hair, but was afraid that she couldn't pull it off. Having Christian in her life had definitely boosted her self-confidence.

"Look at me Liss, please?"

She reluctantly looked at me. Her eyes were sad, yet distant, as if she was remembering something from the past. She sighs and says in a small voice, "Do you remember, a couple months ago, when everyone thought that I was going crazy?" Her bottom lip quivers, "Sometimes, I almost thought that I could hear voices. I didn't hear words exactly, just a quiet humming in the back of my mind that would never really go away."

I stared at her, completely mortified. Was she thinking that the same thing was happening to me? That's impossible... right? No, I'm not going crazy. I've just been a little stressed is all. Just a little stressed....

"Lissa," I gripped her shoulders tightly until she looked up at me "I'm fine, really."

she looked at me, unbelieving.

"You know what, forget I said anything. Really, it's no big deal. I was just tired yesterday, is all." I smiled, trying to convince her that everything was fine.

"Are you sure?" She asks.

"Yes. Yes I'm sure."

She finally smiles. A real smile. And I know that everything will be alright.

"Come on, let's go back to our meadow."

As we traced our steps back, we settle into a comfortable silence. It really does feel like old times. We walk side by side, our shoulders touching. The air is clean and light. As my mind wanders, I think about everything that's happening in my life. I want to tell Lissa about it, I really do. But, I can't. She wouldn't understand. She's too fragile, too breakable.

The night goes on, and we talk. We talk about everything. Everything, and yet nothing at the same time.

"It's time for me to go now Liss." I said reluctantly. I miss her already.

"Yes, I guess it is." She smiles sadly at me. I know that she feels the same way.

"Goodbye Rose..."

The meadow starts to fade, and then all that is left is darkness. Sweet and bitter darkness.


"Rose?"

I hear a cheery voice, calling me. I moan and turn over, pulling the soft and warm blanket over my head.

Against my will, my mind starts to wake up slowly, my body groaning in protest. I hear Brooke sigh loudly.

"Get up, sleepy head!"

Suddenly, my blanket is yanked away from me, and cold air blasts me, making my bones shiver. I curl into a ball, trying to warm my body back into sleep.

"Five more minutes," I croak.

Brooke's persistent though. I hear her walk around the couch and then she opens the curtains. The bright sun shines in my face and I put my hand up, trying to block the harsh rays. The sudden movement sends a dull thud of pain up my arm. If I wasn't awake before, I definitely am now.

I open my eyes slowly, blinking in the bright light.

"Ah, good, you're awake." Brooke claps her hands and rubs her palms together, a mischievous smile on her face. "I made you some pancakes. It's the family recipe, you know. Ben loves them!"

"Uh huh. That's great." I muttered sarcastically as I walk into the bathroom and ready myself for the long day ahead. I heard Brooke giggle on the other side of the door.

"You know Rose, I actually took you as an early riser kinda person." I hear her say. After washing my face I look down to the pajamas that I was wearing, wondering what happened to the clothes that I was wearing yesterday. I peek my head out the door and asked her.

"Oh yes, I forgot," Brooke gets up and walks over to the couch where my clothes laid. "I washed them for you, they were a little grimy and I didn't want you to be uncomfortable for the long ride back." She hands me the clothes and the smell of wildflowers washes over me.

I smile and thank her, once again praising my lucky stars for finding someone as sweet as her. I get changed into the clean clothes and left the bathroom, feeling like a brand new person.

After eating her - quite delicious - pancakes, we head back to the diner. I take a seat at the counter and Brooke bustles away, taking orders from the customers. After sitting still for about twenty minutes, I start to fidget. I hate sitting still. It really is the worst-

Ring... Ring...

My phone starts ringing and I pull it out of my pocket. The little screen on the front informs me that it is none other than Mr. Belikov himself. I answer it quickly.

"Hey comrade!"

"Rose. I'm about five minutes away from the town," Dimitri's voice washes over me "where are you?"

I rant off the directions to the diner and then we hang up. I waved my hands, trying to get Brooke's attention. She finally notices me and smiles, walking over. As soon as she's beside me I tell her that Dimitri's almost here. She clapped her hands and squealed. Literally.

"Ooh! I want to meet him!" She said. She tells her boss - Marty, his name tag read - that she was taking a five minute break, and then pulled me outside. We stood at the curb for less than a minute before I saw my Mom's navy green Jeep Wrangler cruising down the street, Dimitri behind the wheel. He pulls up in front of us and turns off the engine. As he gets out of the car he pulls off his aviators and the sun shines down on his hair, and boy, is it a sight. I heard Brooke sigh dreamily from beside me, and before I knew it she bounced over to him, her hand outstretched.

"Hi, I'm Brooke!" She smiles.

Dimitri looks down at her and smiles charmingly, "I'm Dimitri. Thank you for taking care of Rose for me."

"Oh, not at all! We had so much fun, didn't we Rose?" Brooke looks over at me and I smile back, amused at the way she eyes were practically glazed over.

"Well, it was nice meeting you Brooke," Dimitri started "But I'm afraid that we'd better get going. It's a long ride back."

"Oh yes, of course." Brooke runs over to me and hugs me fiercely. "I'm gonna miss you Rosie. And I'm pretty sure that you forgot to mention how hot your hubby is." She whispers in my ear. My face heats up at the term "hubby" and I sputter like an idiot. When she finally lets go of me she winks knowingly, then waves goodbye to Dimitri.

I get into the car after Dimitri and fasten my seatbelt. Brooke walks over to my open window and rests her arms on the door. She smiles softly at me.

"You've got my number, right?" She asked.

I patted my pocket where her phone number was nestled and nodded. "I'll call you."

Dimitri starts the engine, and soon we're off. I turn in my seat and wave at her. "You'd better!" I heard her yell.


Dimitri and I had been on the road for a good twenty minutes. Neither of us have said anything yet. He looked lost in thought, like he was thinking about something important. My mind started to wander as I looked out at the scenery. I mused about yet another friendship formed with a human. Brooke and I had bonded on some level. She and I were different in so many ways, and yet, we got along fine. I usually don't get along with new people, mainly sticking to people I'd known for years. Yet, here I was, with a whole bunch of new friends. Friends, I would probably never see again once I go back to the academy. I wonder what they'll think, when we leave. Mark, Lena, and Hunter already think that we're part of some special organization. But what about Carson and Brooke? What will they think happened to us?

"Roza?"

I was startled out of my thoughts and turned to Dimitri. His eyes were still on the road, but he glanced at me briefly. I nodded for him to continue.

He sighed loudly before turning to me fully. His eyes were emotionless and focussed, his posture straight and lethal. This was Guardian Belikov. "Rose, I think that it's time for you to go back to the Academy."