Chapter Two: Even When The Darkness Takes Control…
I said goodbye to Luke, Galvin and Mina as they headed off to fight the big nasty and then I made way to the shopping centre. I had money still from my birthday which was on September 22nd so I decided that a little splurging was in order. It was bloody freezing outside so the first thing I did was invest in a large and extremely wooly turquoise scarf, a black beanie and some plain black gloves. I wandered aimlessly in and out of shops. I saw so many beautiful clothes but I had no occasion to wear them to. I had an idea to ask Luke to throw a party at his apartment for all of our college friends. I could imagine that his place would go down a treat with all the other students, we could have disco lights and a bar and a DJ booth…okay maybe I was getting a little a head of myself but I really wanted a good party.
It was now ten past three which meant that I had less than an hour before the shops closed. I quickly ran into Top Shop and bought myself a cropped grey denim military jacket that I instantly fell in love with (even though it was sixty five pounds). I was just walking out when I saw a stunning pair of high heeled, peep toe boots in a shop window and I simply had to buy them…it was a need not a want. My last stop was Café Nero and I grabbed myself a chocolate brownie and a caramel frappuccino. It was a wonder that I wasn't morbidly obese with the way that I ate. I decided to walk home. Although it was basically minus thirty degrees, there was a bit of sunshine out which was much more than we had had in about two months. I also had just bought my winter wear and it was nice to show them off.
About twenty minutes later, I seriously regretted the decision to walk home. I couldn't fell my toes, my fingers, my nose and various other body parts that felt like they were about to drop off. I was still about a mile away from my house and my feet no longer had the will to live.
'You hit me once
I hit you back
You gave a kick
I gave a slap
You smashed a plate over my head
Then I set fire to our bed'
My phone sang in my hand bag as I fished around trying to find it. I eventually pulled it out and answered it when it was just about to go to the answer machine. I didn't have time to check the caller ID.
"Hey Nik," It was Luke…what a surprise.
"Hey, how did the killing spree go?" Wow there was a sentence I never thought I'd say "Did you get the freak?"
"Yeah, well…kind of…" He sounded like he was holding something back.
"Luke? What happened?"
"Well we got the one that Mina saw but…There were no traces of it's controller so we're still completely in the dark…we don't even know what he looks like. Anyway Nikki, I called to ask you to meet me at mine…" I groaned and he heard it "What's wrong? Are you busy?
"No, I just made the worst decision in my life and decided to walk home…I'm about a mile away from mine."
"Right…I'll pick you up, where are you?"
"Luke, its fine…I'll get a bus or something."
"Shut up, where are you?" I laughed down the line.
"I'm just coming up to the Spar on Swansburrough Road."
"Wait at the corner; I'll be there in ten." He hung up so I couldn't argue again. I sighed, my breath visible in front of me, and pout my phone back in my bag. The Spar was visible in front of me, about three hundred yards away. I walked quickly, planning on watching out for Luke inside the warmth of the shop. I was fully intent on buying a magazine and a chocolate bar when I got there as well; the chocolate brownie had not satisfied my sugary needs. When I entered the shop, I checked the clock on my phone; I had approximately four minutes before Luke came. I grabbed myself a copy of Heat! Magazine and a milky bar (white chocolate was by far the best) and waited in the line to pay for them. I had been wrong; it was still as cold in here as it was outside if not colder. I was just paying when I saw Luke's car pull up on the curb.
I ran to his car and pulled open the door, sliding in and slamming the door shut quickly. I exhaled deeply as the warmth of his heater surrounded me. I held my hands in front of the blower and shivered as the heat tickled my fingertips.
"Cold?" His voice was sarcastic and I gave him my most evil glare.
"No shit, Sherlock." I whispered as he sped off.
"That scarf looks good on you."
"Cheers," I stared out of the window and watched the streets pass on the other side. "So what's going on? Why do I need to come to yours?"
"It's really about this whole thing…you'll understand when I show you." And that was the end of my suspicion…not. The rest of the drive that followed remained in silence, an awkward silence to my dismay. It constantly felt like one of us was just about to say something but held their tongue right at the last minute. It was safe to say that it wasn't very comforting. But luckily, I was now toasty warm. We pulled into the car park as per usual (it was only just getting dark so I could see my around fine) and headed up to his marvelous penthouse. Everything seemed to go so much slower in this weird silence mode. The lift journey was hell and it felt like it would never end. I couldn't help as I let out a sigh of relief as we waited outside his door as he got his key out.
As soon as I steeped into this oh so familiar apartment, the memories came flooding back…and so did the questions. Would we have kissed if Galvin hadn't called? Would we have had sex if Galvin hadn't called? Would we be in a full functional relationship now if Galvin hadn't called? I paused at the thought of the third question before shaking my head to myself. Luke and I were just friends. Best friends if anything, it had been that way forever.
Luke did his usual trick of chucking his jacket and shoes all over the place whilst I (being the sensible, loving and kind girl that I am) hung and put them away neatly.
"Just wait here, I'll be back in a minute." He said before disappearing upstairs. I did as I was told and sat down on their plush sofa and read one of Jenny's magazines again. He was true to his word and came down not a minute later holding a rather large mahogany box in his hands. To me it looked extremely heavy but Luke looked as though it were as light as a piece of paper. He did not make eye contact with me as he placed the box on the glass coffee table at my feet and slowly unlocked the latches on either side of a beautiful gold handle. He paused for a moment before opening the box and revealing what was within. At first I couldn't figure out what the hell the strange object before me was but then, as I took in all of the intricate detailing and all of the far too futuristic looking accessories, I realized.
"Luke? Are you going to shoot me?" I stared at the shiny black gun in front of me as he chuckled.
"No Nikki, I'm not…but don't tempt me." He gave me an evil grin and I made a face of a scared person and used my palms to 'fake' surrender. Then his face became serious; so serious, it sent a slight shiver tingling down my spine. He sat down next to me and looked me dead in the eye. "Nikki…something serious is happening. I shouldn't be telling you this but well, I think that you have the right to know." That obviously meant that Galvin and Mina disagreed, "Something's coming, something bigger…more dangerous than you could possibly imagine. You have to be on your guard Nikki…at all times."
"Wait, what do you mean by 'more dangerous'?" I could see in his eyes that he had definitely sensed the panic in my voice.
"I can't explain that Nikki…you have to understand…they will kill you if you know. But it's bad…worse than I or even Galvin for that matter has seen, well, ever." He took one of my hands which were led on my lap and drew circles on my pale skin with his thumb. "I won't…" He started before cutting himself short and lifting his head up to look me in the eyes "I can't lose you. No matter what…I…I just can't." I was speechless…what the hell did this mean? I saw the pain in his eyes and understood fully that whatever was coming, he was scared.
"Luke…" I spoke softly "it's going to be okay, I'm always going to be here by your side, it's just who I am." He sighed and rested his head back against the sofa.
"You know sometimes I think it might've bee easier to have not told you about all of this," He gestured to the gun that was still on the coffee table "It would've been so much easier, you would be far safer for starters…" He looked at me again, his piercing gaze reaching out into my soul "but I'm much too selfish for that." I looked at him, one eyebrow raised in questioning "Do you honestly believe that I could do this without you? Or that I could just let you go? I can't lose you." He repeated and then gave me a smile that made my heart melt. As I lifted my bare feet up to the comfort of the plush sofa he did yet another strange thing. He slowly pulled my over into the crook of his arm before wrapping that same arm around me.
I couldn't believe it. From anyone else's point of view we would have looked like an idyllic young couple…but we weren't a couple. We were just friends. I knew that and I was sure he knew that. But then why was I not untangling myself from him. Instead I found myself doing quite the opposite as I leant my head against his hard chest. His body was so warm as his chest raised up and then back down again. I found that I fitted against him perfectly, almost as if we were two parts pf a jigsaw puzzle. But we weren't. I had to remind myself. But, since I was so comfy…I didn't mind at all as he brought his other arm over to wrap around me protectively. "I will never let anything hurt you." He whispered into my ear as I found myself closing my eyes and entering a sort of dream state. I was still awake (I wouldn't miss this moment for the world), when I felt a light pressure on my forehead as his lips came into contact with my skin. I was too happy to ask about it. I knew that we weren't boyfriend and girlfriend and that we never would be. This was just…a friendship embrace. Yeah that's it. I would never let anything hurt him either, he was my best friend. Plus it wasn't as if we were exactly 'getting it on' on the couch.
He brought his arm up slowly to remove wisps of hair from my face and tuck them behind my ear. I had to concentrate on my breathing as I realized that I had been holding in the same breath for nearly a minute. It was as if I was inside a bubble of comfort. I could feel all of my worries and doubts fading away like a shadow in darkness. Instead, my head was filled with soothing words of assurance. Assurance that all of the darkness would run away petrified and just me and Luke would remain. I didn't know how long we had been sat there like that, in perfect serenity, but when I opened my eyes I saw that the sky had turned into an orange and purple canvas that was slowly getting darker. I moved slightly to check the red clock on the wall and saw that it was twenty to five.
"Luke, I should go…I need to sleep in my own bed tonight." I hesitantly removed myself from the depths of his warm embrace and grabbed my coat and shoes; I could feel his eyes on my back the entire time.
"Yeah, sure…I'll run you back."
As soon as I woke up, I wish I hadn't. I could tell that it was still early even though I didn't open my eyes just for a second. I had that feeling…you know, that 'kind of sick, kind of not sick' feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you have woken up too early. I groaned into my pillow, not daring to move my neck in case of spasm. I really did not have the energy to 'un crick' my neck. I could see faintly through my eyelids that although I had assumed it was early, the room was filled with daylight which in the winter only arrived at about nine-ish. That wasn't too early, just the right time actually…so why was I feeling like this? Unless…
I slowly opened my heavy eyelids and peaked at the silver digital alarm clock on my right bedside table. Shit. 13:37…I had overslept ,big time. Oversleeping was the only other time you could get that weird feeling. My mouth was all dry and tasted like gone off vinegar (not that I had ever tried gone off vinegar). I scraped my teeth down my tongue (yucky, I know but it usually works) to try and freshen my mouth before groggily getting out of my bed and walking out into the hall and across the small space to the bathroom. My mother would be well at work now what with it being two hours until the kids were leaving school so I didn't have to worry about waking her up if she was running late or making her breakfast. When I came to think about it, this was the most stress free morning I had had in a long time. Well, excluding yesterday. Yesterday hadn't been stressful but it had been very…awkward and abnormal to say the least. I took my time in the shower as I was in no rush whatsoever and washed my hair before brushing my teeth and returning to my bedroom to attempt to tame the beast that was otherwise known as my hair.
My natural hair was a sort of light and sandy blonde but as soon as I was sixteen and out of school I marched down to the nearest chemist and bought eight bottles of white platinum blonde hair dye and it had been that way ever since. My mum threw a hissy fit when she saw it but eventually rolled her eyes and said 'it's your hair, if you want to ruin it then that decision is up to you'. Luke had been slightly more understanding. That was the understatement of the year, he loved it. For about a week afterwards he couldn't stop staring at my hair and playing with it. Three weeks later, I landed myself with my first real boyfriend.
His name was Nathan and I met him at a friend's party in the last week of August. He was really into his music like me and he was in a band called 'Hey Fiona'. I was heartbroken when he told me that he had gotten a scholarship in America for a Music Academy and that he would be leaving that November but nevertheless, we had an amazing two and a half months together. Luke and I had quite a big argument when Luke told me that Nathan was only using me for those two months and that I was worth more than that. Then he had used the words 'If you carry on with this then you're just a worthless whore' and there was no denying that that had hurt tremendously, I walked out then and there and refused to answer his calls until Christmas day where he apologized and said that those months had been hell without me. That had made me smile. Plus he did look like a wreck so it was hard not to forgive him when he gave me those puppy dog eyes.
So everything had gone back to normal that is until the Galvinator came and sprung all of this Demon crap on us. Nathan and I still emailed each other but I never told Luke this, there was no need to cause another argument. I eventually manage to smooth my hair into its natural waves and applied my usual eyeliner and clear lip gloss. I flicked through my wardrobe and eventually decided on a long purple checkered dress shirt, denim leggings and a cute pair of black leather (fake leather, I wasn't exactly what you would call loaded) flat boots. Perfect with my new scarf and duffel coat. No time to eat, I told myself as I marched past the kitchen and straight to the front door after grabbing my black over the shoulder bag. As I was locking the front door, my phone began to sing in my pocket.
Breathe in for luck.
Breathe in so deep.
This air is blessed, you share with me.
This night is wild, so calm and dull.
These hearts, they race, from self-control.
Your legs are smooth, as they graze mine.
We're doing fine.
We're doing nothing at all.
My hopes are so high that your kiss might kill me.
So won't you kill me?
So I die happy.
My heart is yours to fill or burst,
To break or bury, or wear as jewelry.
Whichever you prefer.
Dashboard Confessional's 'Hands Down' reached my ears as I fumbled around in my bag searching for it. My fingertips managed to scrape across the smooth white surface of my iPhone (a birthday present from Luke that I had fought against accepting but he eventually won by saying he would break it if I didn't take it) and answered as it was just finishing the last line of the ring tone.
"Hello?" My voice was rushed as I ran to slip through the closing lift doors.
"Hey, Nik…you alright?" Luke's voice immediately calmed me down.
"Yeah, hey Luke. I just couldn't find my phone that's all." I could hear him release a breath through the phone receiver.
"Good. Anyway, do you want to go and see a movie or something tonight?" I stopped as I was walking to the lobby doors.
"This is Luke right?"
"Nothing, it's just you've kind of been really busy lately what with all of this demon crap. I thought that you said the 'big bad' was coming or something…shouldn't you be out with the Galvinator saving the world?"
"Well… I just wanted to-" I cut him off.
"I'm fine, Luke. Seriously. You don't have to spend every second of every day with me just to protect me. I'm okay." I found myself smiling at the thought of him trying to keep me from harm's way. "Also, I can't go tonight as it is. I have an evening of chick flicks and pizza planned with my mummy."
"Really?" He sounded surprised but I didn't blame him. He of all people knew what my mother had been like for the past couple of weeks.
"Yes really. She came to my room yesterday and said that we should do something. And that she was sorry."
"Nikki, that's great…why didn't you tell me yesterday?" Suddenly all the happenings of yesterday flooded towards me. The almost kiss in his room and the whole 'him holding me like we were romantically involved' situation.
"Um…I guess I just got preoccupied." He seemed to understand what I was talking about as he stayed silent for a bit after that. He finally spoke and I let out a sigh of relief.
"You're probably right anyway…I should be researching or something."
"Okay, well I'll see you tomorrow I guess," I being this way with him. Why couldn't we just go back to when we were just best friends? When there was no awkward moments or weird tension between us. But we had crossed a line and I knew that. There was no going back now until we talked about this.
"Yeah, have fun with your mum." I could sense that he was going to cut off the line so I acted on instinct.
"I love you, Luke." We had said it countless times before and it always meant the same thing…friendship love. Nothing more, nothing less. I held my breath as I waited for his response.
"I…You too." And then the line went dead. And my heart painfully fell onto the cold pavement.
I was stood in the centre of Blockbusters in town holding two different films in my hands. The first was the ever so classic Notting Hill starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts and the other…well it wasn't exactly what you would call classic. It had just caught my eye that's all. Sid and Nancy. When I was fifteen, I had gone through a sort of obsession with the legendary Sid Vicious. I had seen the movie of him and his drugged up sweetheart countless times before now, analyzed it even for my first year college assignment. But this film brought back so many memories. Happy memories that is, when the world was right and not completely turned upside as it had been this past year. I found myself reminiscing over these memories as I stood in the middle of the isle gazing at the back of the pink DVD.
It had taken me forever to get Luke to watch the film with me, the film that I had been obsessing about for weeks now. Sid and Nancy. My room was covered in pictures of the Sex Pistols and the two young lovers themselves. My wardrobe was filled with printed tee shirts and the film itself had a preserved spot on my DVD shelf. Luke at first called me insane and had said that he would not watch this crazy monstrosity that had converted me into such a lunatic. But I just gave him my puppy dog eyes and when that didn't work I told him that I would watch all of the Die Hard films back to back if he did this for me. Now that had been a long and boring night. But it was all worth it in the end as there he was, sat cross legged on my blue couch eating the popcorn that I had specifically told him not to eat until I had put the film on. I just rolled my eyes at him and pressed play on the DVD's menu.
"This is shit." I nudged him with my elbow. "I'm just saying…you watch some crap tv, Nikki." Another nudge.
"Well don't 'just say'. I never once complained when you made me sit through Bourne Identity did I? And let me tell you, Luke Rutherford. I have never been so bored in my life. So just shut up because we still have an hour and a half to go." He groaned and turned his attention back to the television set. About fifteen minutes passed before he spoke again. It was now my turn to groan.
"Just for the record…Bourne Identity is one of the best films that man has ever invented."
"I never said it wasn't, but it's not exactly my cup of tea now is it Luke?"
"And this" he gestured with his hands towards the television screen where Sid was in America on the phone to Nancy. "is mine?" he had a point but I just decided to ignore him and hope that he would eventually be quiet. Lucky for me, he was until the credits began to roll. "Thank God for that! Why do you like that film so much anyway?" I sighed and lifted myself up from the sofa to put the disc back in its case.
"You're a boy- Scratch that, you're an ignorant boy…you wouldn't understand."
"Try me." I slowly sunk back down to the couch and twiddled with the DVD in my hands.
"It's just…they loved each other so much that they weren't willing to live without one another. I don't know about you, but I'd give anything to be able to find that when I grow up." I looked at him and saw that is eyebrow was raised.
"So you want to find someone who will pump you with illegal substances and stab you several times in the gut?" I knew he wouldn't understand.
"No…I guess I just want what everybody wants…to be happy with someone I love." He gave me a funny look and opened his mouth to say something but he must've though better of it as he clamped his mouth shut almost straight away. We sat there staring at each other wordlessly for several minutes before he finally spoke up.
I shook myself out of my own childhood past and slowly put the DVD back on the shelf where it had come from. It was amazing now, two years on, everything had changed completely and we were now facing what was apparently the biggest evil that the world had ever seen.
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