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Wanna thank Booksketeer, DiscoLemonadeDiva, Kit Merlot, SriHellgirl25, xineweber, Veronica, violent-smurf and Dannie Tomlinsonfor reviewing the previous chapter.
Chloe's head burnt with the power healing her fractured skull, but she was still able to concentrated on the fight in front of her.
Just when she thought she might die, there'd been a slash of light in the darkness, the sound of skin tearing, and blood had spurted into her face and clothes as Jason's arm had been sliced off. The revenant had let go of her and turned to Clay, who was standing behind him, wielding the Japanese katana made for an ancient hunter, whose blade was a unique mixture of iron that'd somehow been mixed with holy water and dead man's blood.
Chloe wanted to get up, to help, but she was still too weak and fevered from her power working, and Lois was obviously tending to Jo, so Clay was on his own to face the creature of his nightmares.
He was frightened, it was obvious, but there was steely determination in his eyes and in his stance, and his body was long and agile, like a feline's.
Compared to him, Jason suddenly looked bulky and ungraceful.
A noise to the right caused Chloe to slowly turn to her agonized head in that direction, and her eyes widened in horror as she saw a shadowed figure standing to the side, watching the happenings silently.
She knew that figure.
Fear unlike anything she'd ever felt rose in her body. She wanted to scream for Clay to run, to just get out of there, but once again she was unable to move, to make even the slightest of noises, as that figure turned slowly to look at her.
It was just like that night again when she was thirteen and helpless.
It pissed her off.
So much had happened since that night, so much had changed in her, and she'd always assured herself that if she were to come upon him again she'd be stronger, and she'd kill him! And yet here she was, just as weak as she'd always been. Her strength had been all an illusion when compared to whatever powers he possessed.
All he had to do was look in her direction and she was paralyzed, even her vocal cords stiff and unresponsive.
Chloe must have blacked out, because the next thing she knew Clay was lifting her up in his arms, whispering her name. She opened her eyes, looking up into his face, confused, knowing she should be scared but feeling safe in those large arms. "Hey."
He chuckled softly, shaking his head. "Hey."
"Did I miss anything?" Chloe asked, sending a look in the shadows but finding the figure long gone.
"You could say that." Clay announced, helping her to her feet to see Jason's body sliced into different chunks, the Anasazi symbols around him in neat writing.
She blinked, turning to look at Clay in utter amazement. "How--?"
He grinned sheepishly at her. "I studied the drawings on the soil around the cabin---and I have a photographic memory."
Chloe couldn't believe it, shaking her now fully healed head. "Are you employed?"
Clay blinked in surprise. "Are you offering me a job?"
"Are you considering accepting it?" Chloe threw back at him.
Clay grinned. "Maybe."
They shared a smile before Chloe turned back to the body in front of her and examine the chunks.
A twig snapping caused Chloe to tense and Clay to reach for the discarded katana, and yet when the shrubs were pushed aside the ones appearing were fully armed Lois and Jo, who stopped and looked at Chloe and Clay in surprise when they saw Jason in the middle of the circle of symbols.
"Good job Cuz." Lois grinned, lowering her rifle.
"Actually, Clay's the one who did all of this." Chloe responded truthfully, sending a grateful look in the blushing male's direction. "I was knocked out throughout most of it. He saved my life."
She decided not to say anything about the figure right now.
Clay didn't need to know about that.
Jo, stomach wrapped tightly, obviously good despite the pain from the injury she'd sustained when Jason had stabbed her with her own sword, grinned. "Nice slice and dice, Miller!"
"Uhm, thanks." Clay looked a little uncomfortable with all of the praise.
It was kinda cute.
Lois raised an eyebrow at him. "You did all of this?"
She grinned. "You got a job?"
He chuckled, sharing a look with Chloe. "I---I'm considering one."
Lois seemed a little confused with that answer but shrugged it off, passing Chloe the bag she'd brought with him. "Here you go. Lets salt and burn this motha."
Chloe nodded, taking the bag, before turning and passing it to Clay. "You have the honors Mr. Miller."
Clay looked down at the contents in the bag, up at Chloe, and then nodded, putting down the katana and taking out the large container of salt, stepping into the circle and emptying the container over every piece of Jason. He then pulled out the accelerant and poured that out, making sure to marinate the corpse with it, before stepping out of the circle and accepting the lighter Chloe was holding.
He hesitated, looking at the body, obviously remembering all the horrors the revenant had done to the people he'd considered friends…and to his sister.
"Burn in hell." He whispered, lighting the lighter and throwing it into the circle, onto Jason's chest.
The body caught of fire immediately, the whole circle becoming consumed by flames.
In the middle of the inferno a figure began to appear, and for a moment Chloe was terrified it was him, but then she realized it was a child's body.
His real spirit.
The soul that'd been trapped inside of the revenant.
The young boy smiled up at them thankfully before flickering out of existence as the revenant was destroyed forever.
Lois grinned, folding her arms over her chest, admiring the fire. "Nothing like an honest day's work."
"If only we had marsh mellows to roast over this baby." Jo bemoaned, sitting down slowly when her injury throbbed a little too painful for her to remain standing any longer. "I forgot to bring them this time. Why can't anyone else remember to bring the marsh mellows?"
"Because you are the only one who thinks baddie + hunt = smores." Chloe chuckled, hands on her hips.
Jo pouted. "But you all eat them with me! It's not fair!"
"Oh hush young grasshopper." Lois sat down next to her, hands extended toward the flames, enjoying the warmth.
"Hey!" Jo pouted at Lois. "If anyone gets to give me the grasshopper line, it's the boss."
"Yeah, but T's never gonna give it to you, so I might as well use that line and all its awesomeness." Lois responded crisply, groaning in appreciation of the warmth in the cold night. "'Cuase I'm awesome like that."
"Someone awesome would have remembered the marsh mellows." Jo protested.
Lois glared at her.
Chloe laughed. "Don't make me send you two to separate corners."
"Yes ma'am." Both murmured, refusing to look at each other.
Clay, eyes wide after having seen the real Jason, turned an unbelieving gaze at the girls and how candidly they were taking this. As if this were normal.
Then again, it was.
And he seemed to realize this because the shock drained out of his face and he just smiled at them, turning his gaze contemplatively towards the fire once more.
"What do we do now? With the remains?" Clay asked, turning to look at Chloe after some moment's contemplation.
She went to stand beside him, gazing into the fire. "We'll gather the ashes, mix them with holy water, and keep it in a vault safe and frozen."
He nodded, returning his attention to the burning corpse.
She hesitated a second before placing a comforting hand on his arm.
He surprised her by reaching with his other hand and placing it over hers, trapping her hand pleasantly there, gaze never leaving the corpse. Both stood silent, watching it burn, watching the nightmare end.
Lois watched them and smiled.
Jo watched them and frowned.
And from the shadows, something watched them all.
"It was there?" Ava frowned, eyes narrowed as they sat in the conference room the next day. "And it still had that power over you?"
"Why was it there?" Lana wanted to know, worried, tapping her fingers against the desk in a nervous gesture. "Why choose now all of a sudden to reappear?"
"Or what if it hasn't ever really been gone?" Jo asked the question no one wanted to ask. "What if it only has chosen to reveal that it's still there and has power over Chloe?"
"But why now all of a sudden?" Lois re-asked Lana's question, standing up, unable to keep seated anymore. "Was his little show of power a way of warning Chloe off of something? Was there something in that forest that we weren't supposed to find out? Did he not want us to kill the revenant?"
"Or maybe it was something else?" Lana asked, running a hand through her hair.
"I don't know." Chloe answered all of the questions at once, sighing. "All I know is that that thing is back, and I don't know why. Why is it back? Why is it after me in the first place? What is it?"
"All very good questions." Ava announced. "I mean, it could be a number of things. Ever since the necromancer's ghost case we've been trying to research it----," she paused. "What if us researching it is making it uneasy?"
Lois looked up. "What if we're narrowing in on it?"
Jo stood as well. "It means it's scared because we're getting close to something."
Lana nodded. "That could be true." She frowned, looking at Chloe in worry. "But that also means that it might get violent again, and do we really want to go up against something that can paralyze without even lifting a hand?"
"What if he goes after Chloe again to hurt her and get us to stop?" Lois worried, sitting back down.
The sound of a buzzer caused them to look up at the screen as it flashed an image of the door being buzzed, showing a freshly shaven, wind-blown Clay at the front entrance, ringing the doorbell.
"What's he doing back here?" Lana frowned. "I thought he'd already paid?"
"Maybe he has other reasons for being here." Ava grinned, looking down at her fingernails and thus avoiding the confused look Lana was sending her.
"We're in the middle of something there." Jo frowned. "He'll have to come back later."
"We've touched every area that needs to be touched---and that sounded so dirty!" Lois grinned, turning to Chloe. "Go on and see what he wants. I'm sure you're the one he's looking for anyway."
Not sure she liked the grins she was getting from Lois and Ava, Chloe stood and took the stairs down to the ground level, going to the front entrance and unlocking it. They usually locked the whole building whenever they were having conferences so that they wouldn't have to worry about someone coming into the building and creating havoc while there was no one around to keep an eye on them.
"Hey." She smiled, opening the door and letting him in.
Axel F played happily in the building.
Clay paused, listening to it, before laughing. "I used to love this piece of music as a kid."
"Me too. It's…lively." Chloe agreed, smiling up at his face. "So, Mr. Miller, how can I help you today?"
He cleared his throat nervously before reaching for something out of his back pocket and handing it to her.
Raising an eyebrow at the paper, Chloe unfolded it and found one of their applications filled completely. "How did you--?"
"Lois had Ava print it out and then gave it to me." Clay admitted. "Does the offer still stand for field worker?"
Chloe was shocked.
She'd offered it to him but she hadn't thought he would---. "Are you sure about this? Jason---he's just an example of what we deal with every single day. It's not an easy job, and it isn't a safe one."
"How's the medical?" He asked.
She laughed a little at the unexpected question. "Uhm, it's actually top notch."
"Then I don't see the problem." Clay shucked his hands nervously into his jeans. "I---Lois said something to me while we were in the cabin waiting on you and Jo, and I've been thinking about it ever since, and I realized she was right as we watched that bastard burn."
Chloe tilted her head, wondering what exactly Lois had told him. "So you're sure? People who get into this line of work---they're usually in it to the death."
He nodded. "I'm sure…boss."
She giggled, smiling up at him. "Welcome to Tara."
He nodded again, ducking his gaze, smiling shyly.
They'd just gotten their first male employee.
Things were going to be getting more interesting around Tara.